Summary of Archaeology and the Planning Process

Archaeology and the Planning Process – the one page guide.

Please remember that this is a very short guide that only gives the most general idea of the process.

1. In many cases, an appraisal of your application by the Planning Archaeologist has led to conditions being recommended to the Council Planning Department.

2. Once you receive the planning consent, contact the Planning Archaeologist at the earliest opportunity. The Planning Archaeologist will provide you with a ‘brief’ which outlines the archaeological fieldwork required. This document will also set out the archaeological background of the development site and the reasons for the archaeological condition(s). This document may be used to obtain estimates from archaeological contractors.

3. You may then contact one or more archaeological contractors or units. Details of suitable organisations can be found on the Registered Organisations pages of the Institute for Archaeologists website. Provide them with a copy of the brief and all relevant site plans so they can produce a tender for you and a written scheme of investigation (WSI) for the Planning Archaeologist.

4. The Contractor will either send a copy of the WSI directly to the Planning Archaeologist or you will receive a copy and must forward it yourself. The WSI needs to be approved by the Planning Archaeologists to assess that it meets the minimum requirements for the site.

5. No work can begin on the development until the WSI is approved; any work that involves groundbreaking or demolition (depending on the type of works), whether carried out by the developer or archaeologist that takes place prior to approval (unless specifically agreed with the Local Planning Authority) will constitute a breach of conditions.

6. Phased archaeological work will begin (Desk Based Assessment, Evaluation/Field Survey/Watching Brief etc), and the Planning Archaeologist may visit to ensure that best practice is being maintained.

7. Once the initial phases of archaeological works (Evaluation) have been completed, the Planning Archaeologist will either decide to recommend whether or not further work should be undertaken, or will wait until the production of an initial report. Within a phased programme of works, the Planning Archaeologist will then discuss with the developer and archaeological contractor a suitable strategy if necessary to deal with archaeological features that will be affected by the development.

The preferred option is always preservation in situ – however, in the cases where there is no other alternative and every avenue of preservation has been explored, then further phases of work will be required – and a mitigation strategy will be developed. This may include full excavation in certain cases.

8. Responsibility for the execution and resourcing of the programme of archaeological work (including any post-excavation work) and for the archiving and appropriate level of publication of the results lies with the applicant, with advice given by the Planning Archaeologist and the archaeological contractor.

9. If significant archaeological remains are uncovered, the applicant is encouraged to make provision for public accessibility, either through local media involvement, school visits/talk, open days (dependant on site conditions), exhibitions or evening talks. Community involvement should be seen as a positive step in creating both a local sense of history and an important aspect for the development for community well-being.

10. Once the archaeological conditions have been met, including arrangements for dissemination of the results and deposition of the archive arising from the fieldwork, the Planning Archaeologist will recommend that the archaeological conditions be discharged.

This information has been taken from a guide to the planning process produced by British Archaeological Jobs and Resources (BAJR). For further information please visit the BAJR website (external site).

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