Archaeological Assessments & Archaeological Impact Assessments

Since 27th March 2012, planning applications in England need to take account of National Planning Policy Framework , which has again changed how archaeology, listed buildings and heritage sites of all kinds are managed when changes are proposed The applicant needs to consider heritage assets (the catch-all term now employed to include old buildings, earthworks, ruins, buried archaeological objects, buried pits, ditches and ruins, old hedgerows, historic woodland, landscaped parkland and registered gardens, battlefields, wreck sites... - no-one has yet popularised a better word to mean all of these and more!) before they submit their application. An Archaeological Impact Assessment describes the known heritage interest of an application site and indicates how any potential detrimental impact of the proposals will be reduced or removed.

Many planning applications now need to include information about any ‘heritage assets’ that the proposal could affect. The term refers to a wide variety of different things including , standing old buildings, conservation areas, historic parks and gardens, old battle sites, historic hedgerows and ancient woodland –The level of information that needs to be presented differs from application to application. For some sites much is already known, and perhaps only a summary needs to be provided to the planners as a brief note (stating that there are no known heritage assets that will be affected, and listing the sources checked). For others, very little is known and here the effort to provide enough detail to show you understand the implications of your proposal may be more time-consuming and/or costly to research. These may need the submission of numerous reports detailing the affected assets, describing the results of archaeological, historical or technical work that has been commissioned to gain fuller information, and setting out a detailed mitigation strategy designed to satisfy the planners that any remains which are affected will be protected or recorded in appropriate detail.

To avoid delays navigating through the planning process, it is crucial to submit adequate relevant information in a format that is easily understood. As an archaeologist with over 30 years working in the discipline, half of which has been involved with researching the past use of plots of land of all sizes and complexities, I am experienced in discovering, sifting, assessing and presenting the story of your site and the heritage assets it affects. I can set out the likely impact of your proposals, judge whether this could derail your proposals, and recommend ways to reduce any impact to a level acceptable to the planners. An unacceptable Heritage Statement will be rejected, the application refused or not validated, and the applicant will lose valuable time.

My approach is to identify all the affected heritage assets, assess their interest and significance, determine how much each could be changed by the proposal, and establish a viable way of removing or reducing any harm if the proposals are approved.

The process may involve other specialist studies – building survey, geophysical survey, or archaeological trial trenching – and I offer to arrange and co-ordinate such fieldwork and the reports into an integrated Heritage Statement.

If required, I have experience in discussing schemes formally or informally with council officers or national bodies (such as English Heritage) who advise the planners or issue their own consents. It is frequently helpful to show an understanding and appreciation of the interest of a site whilst negotiating a mitigation scheme to enable planning proposals to proceed.

The end product need not simply be a professional document for submission with the planning application. It can give you a fuller understanding of why others consider your plans might affect heritage assets owned by yourself or others. It may give you much greater knowledge of your property. It offers the fascination of historical (and sometimes archaeological) discovery, closely linked with a careful exploration of the development options.

I gained experience in multiple aspects of this process before PPS5 and NPPF were introduced, and I am well-placed either to offer consultancy advice or to undertake the necessary desk-based research before writing an appropriate report and supporting you through the planning process.