In July 2019 Tony and Mick from Vindomora Solutions Ltd acted as professional support for this year’s Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group‘s excavations at The Hagg, Fremington, in Swaledale. The group’s annual excavations at the site started back in 2012 and it was good to see the progress made when this season’s excavation closed and we got the site plan updated…
Planning Condition archaeological schemes
Upon applying for planning permission in areas of archaeological sensitivity, the pre-app requirement usually lies with archaeological evaluation. If the results are positive for archaeological remains, there’s a good chance that you’ll find you have an archaeological condition set in your planning application results. This condition usually takes the form, in the case of the need for invasive works during the development, of mitigation excavation of the whole or targeted areas of the development or a scheme of archaeological monitoring known as a watching brief.
This requirement is put in place in accordance with paragraph 199 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), updated in July 2018 which reads: “Local planning authorities should require developers to record and advance understanding of the significance of any heritage assets to be lost (wholly or in part in a manner proportionate to their importance and the impact, and to make this evidence (and any archive generated) publicly accessible.“
If you would like to read the information for yourself, please visit the following link and read Section 16:
The cost of such investigation works lies with the developer who by undertaking the development with an archaeological condition attached takes on the legal responsibility for the condition to be discharged. In many cases, the wording of an archaeological condition implies that work on construction of the development may not commence until the fieldwork has been undertaken and the subsequent report approved by the local authority.
» I’ve got an mitigation condition in my planning application, what do I do now?
So, you have an archaeological condition in your application. Or, in most cases you’ll have two: one for the fieldwork and a second for the reporting, publication and archive stage. Either way, you’ll have to fulfil those conditions otherwise your development won’t proceed without serious legal consequences.
Some local authorities have tendering lists of approved archaeological contractors that they can give out – or you may just wish to stay with the company that undertook your initial evaluation. You can also look on Google, social media, the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists has a limited search facility and the British Archaeological Jobs and Resources Register of Professional Archaeological Companies is comprehensive.
IIts recommended that you get a couple of quotes in as prices can vary dramatically. Just make sure the quotes are open and clear when it comes to contingency costs such as specialist analysis.
» So what does a mitigation excavation usually entail?
Mitigation excavation at this stage produces the complete record of the archaeological remains within your development area, and as such will likely require that complete excavation of the archaeological record to the depth of your development. As well as the fieldwork itself, the excavation will generate specialist analysis such as palaeoenvironmental sampling (where the archaeological company takes a soil sample of a feature to test for past environmental factors), pottery analysis, iron x-ray and conservation etc.
Once the fieldwork has been done, the report is compiled coupled with specialist analysis and may lead to publication.
» My archaeological condition is for a monitoring scheme – how does that work?
A monitoring scheme, or watching brief requires an archaeologist (or archaeologists) to be on-site while invasive groundworks take place. As the name of the process implies, the archaeologist will observe the excavations taking place and will record any archaeological remains as the development proceeds. If more archaeology than is expected is uncovered, the archaeologist will liaise with the local authority as to whether the scheme shoudl continue as a watching brief or if it would be better suited to excavation in part or as a whole.
The archaeologist must be given enough time and space to undertake recording works, with the provision of also allowing the local authority archaeology officer to visit the site. As with excavations, watching brief may also produce material required to be further studied by specialists.
One thing to remember is that even if no archaeological remains are uncovered in the watching brief, the archaeologist still needs to produce a report to fulfil the condition.
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