Many developments, from domestic extensions to major road schemes, include a heritage element. Whether it involves a listed building, lies within a defined archaeological area or crosses a previously undeveloped historic landscape, the potential impacts of the development on heritage assets will need to be considered and, where necessary, mitigated. This is a requirement of the planning process under policies set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, and is reflected in the faculty system operated by the Church of England.
While heritage issues may form only a small part of a development, meeting the requirements of an archaeological condition on planning consent may have a disproportionate impact on the construction timetable. With this in mind, we offer a complete package of services, from archaeological risk assessment and management, through fieldwork solutions to the publication of detailed reports, all designed to minimise disruption and to give our clients confidence that the requirements of the planning authority will be met in full.
Preliminary works include the preparation of desk-based reports, known variously as desk-based assessments, heritage impact assessments, heritage statements and other similar names. These aim to identify known heritage assets, and define archaeological potential in the vicinity of a proposed development, to consider the possible impacts of the development on them, and propose ways in which those impacts could be reduced or mitigated.
Programmes of Investigation
Programmes of investigation and mitigation will be defined in a project design, often referred to in planning conditions as a "written scheme of investigation", that presents a detailed specification for the work to be carried out, including a research design and a methodology for its achievement.
Field investigation may involve several stages, and could include intrusive and non-intrusive elements.
Non-intrusive investigations include the use of geophysics to identify below ground features, artefact collection (also known as fieldwalking) across ploughed fields to record concentrations of artefacts and hence map below ground features, and earthwork survey (also known as topographical survey) to record banks, ditches and mounds, and the remains of ridge and furrow cultivation surviving in unploughed fields.
Historic Building Records create a written, drawn and photographic snapshot in time, of listed or other historic buildings, before renovation, conversion or, in extreme cases, demolition.
Intrusive investigations include the evaluation of sites through trial trenching to confirm or dismiss their archaeological potential, and open area excavation to record previously identified remains on a site, before they are destroyed by development groundworks. On less sensitive sites, a watching brief may be appropriate, where archaeologists work alongside contractors to monitor ongoing groundworks.
Off-site processing of the collected data will follow any programme of field investigation, including an assessment of their significance. Where appropriate, detailed analysis of particular classes of data, for example, ceramics, metalwork or environmental indicators, will take place before a comprehensive report is prepared and submitted for publication, and the archive is finalised and deposited with an approved museum or store.