Heritage Statements are relatively new documents, produced in response to the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Guidance states a local authority may ask an applicant to provide evidence concerning the significance of any heritage assets which may be affected by their development proposals.
1.National Planning Policy Guidance 2019 revision www.gov.uk/guidance/national-planning-policy-framework.
The amount of detail that is required in a Heritage Statement will vary according to the particular proposal. It will cover:
•a statement and assessment of significance of archaeological and cultural heritage assets,
• an assessment of the likely impact of the proposals on the identified heritage assets,
• outline mitigation to address likely impacts.
In response to planning applications, a local authority may indicate they have insufficient information to make a considered decision and request additional data, which can include an assessment of archaeological potential. Similarly, developers may also wish to know the archaeological implications of a site prior to purchase or submission of a planning application. In both these cases, a desk-based assessment can provide a clearer indication of the potential for archaeology to be present on site.
Desk-based assessments involve the analysis, interpretation and compilation of information from:
• local and national archaeological databases,
• historic and recent maps, generally held in county archives offices,
• historic information, also held by county archives offices,
• aerial photographs, held in local and national collections,
• unpublished rep orts on previous archaeological investigations,
• published accounts on the archaeology, history and geology of the study area,
• geotechnical investigations,
• a site inspection to assess site conditions and constraints.
This information is then presented as a report to the client.
Character Appraisals assist conservation professionals, developers and local planning authorities manage change in historic areas. Their aim is to help develop understanding and communicate the character of a specific location to aid planning decisions. The work seeks to understand and present why a specific area is special, which elements within the area contributes to, and detracts from, its special quality.
Similar to a desk-based assessment, the appraisal process involves detailed initial research of the historic records, but also requires further stages of work such as gathering additional socio-economic and geographic information and can also include local community involvement.
Environmental Impact Assessment
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process which gathers detailed information to assess the environmental consequences of a large infrastructure or development proposal. Archaeological and cultural heritage information is one set of data collected alongside many other disciplines such as landscape, hydrology, ecology and noise. The information is collated and presented as an Environment Statement (ES).
The EIA process for archaeology and cultural heritage involves:
• establishing baseline conditions – a review of the known archaeological and cultural heritage assets present at the site and in the surrounding area, similar to a desk-based assessment,
• gathering further site specific information in the form of archaeological field survey and investigation (such as geophysical survey or trial trenching) if required, to provide sufficient information on the presence of – and potential for – buried archaeological remains that may be affected by the proposals.
MAS has extensive experience of carrying out EIAs for the archaeological and cultural heritage resource across a wide range of developments, quarries, renewables, road schemes, industrial, retail and housing developments. We advise and liaise with other disciplines involved in producing an EIA for the client.
A number of techniques, from desk-based assessment through geophysical survey to excavation, can be used to investigate the archaeological potential of a site. Each stage of investigation can therefore be regarded as ‘mitigation’ as archaeological potential is identified, examined and solutions sought to mitigate any damage or loss of archaeological sites and deposits. Information gathered during site evaluation is used to determine the nature and scale of likely impacts of the proposals on the archaeological remains and helps develop mitigation strategies to avoid or reduce any negative effects.
Mitigation strategies aimed at preventing or minimising the impact of development can include:
• preservation of archaeological remains in situ,
• design solutions to avoid or protect archaeological remains,
• a programme of archaeological investigation and recording and dissemination of the results.
MAS have a strong track record liaising with clients to help devise appropriate mitigation strategies. We have worked successfully with a wide and varied range of development issues in both urban and rural settings.