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Archaeology excavations and surveys

Last updated 9 July 2013

We offer advice on planning proposals for new developments that may impact on archaeological sites and monuments.

What we can do

An initial consultation will show whether there are any known, or likely, archaeological remains within or adjacent to a proposed development.

On the basis of this preliminary appraisal, it may be necessary to commission a fuller archaeological assessment or evaluation by a professionally qualified archaeological contractor. The report on this work should accompany the planning application, and include an assessment of the archaeological effect of the development and any measures proposed to reduce it's impact. The Local Planning Authority may defer a planning decision until this information is available.

The first priority is the preservation of significant archaeological remains in situ. to achieve this, the archaeological impact of the development should be minimised by, for example, sympathetic foundation design or amendments to the layout. If this is not feasible, then detailed excavation, recording and publication is the second best option.

Archaeological implications will be a material consideration for the Local Planning Authority when making a planning decision. If further archaeological work is necessary this can be secured, wither by the use of a planning condition, or by a legal agreement under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

In other cases, particularly small-scale development, recording of archaeological remains during development may be advised; this is known as watching brief and will normally be secured by a planning condition.

Archaeology in practice

Archaeological work, before and during development, can take a number of forms:

  • Desk-based assessment: a detailed appraisal of available information about a site before a planning application is submitted or approved
  • Field evaluation: a survey or trial excavation designed to assess the nature of archaeological remains within a proposed development area before a planning application is submitted or approved. Techniques may include field walking, geophysical survey and trail trenching
  • Excavation and recording: a controlled programme of fieldwork to provide a lasting record of archaeological evidence unavoidably destroyed by development
  • Watching brief: the recording of archaeological evidence coming to light during the course of development

It is national and local practice that the costs of archaeological work made necessary by development should, in most circumstances, be borne by the developer

For information and further advice contact Sustainable Communities.

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Contact details

  • Sustainable Communities

    Environment and Regeneration Waltham Forest Council Sycamore House Town Hall Complex Forest Road
    E17 4SU
    Phone: 020 8496 3000