Archaeological plan

Day in the life of an archaeological planning officer 3.30pm

Since lunch I’ve been going through a draft written scheme of investigation (WSI) for a development in Chepstow. The WSI is required to meet a condition attached to the planning consent for a residential development. An archaeological evaluation (trial trenching) of the site was carried out prior to the determination of the planning application, but this was restricted due to there being occupied buildings on the site. The scheme therefore will commence with further evalaution work and then, depending on the results, could lead to an archaeological excavation on indentified areas of the site, although it is possible that little additional work will be required, if the construction of the current buildings has destroyed all of the archaeology.

Checking a wsi can be very boring and tedious and you can feel that you are being pernickety but experience has shown that getting the wsi right can save a lot of time and trouble at a later date, as all of the archaeological work will be governed by the contents of the wsi. In general this wsi was very good, I had discussed the contents with the archaeological consultant previously, with the only major issues being the need to include the objectives of the Research Framework for the Archaeology of Wales (http://www.archaeoleg.org.uk/) and to remove the need for an OASIS record to be used as OASIS does not cover Wales.

Planning & Archaeology in Wales

Hello! I’m Judith and work for a Welsh Archaeological Trust doing Archaeological Planning. It’s a bit of a varied job and basically we provide information to local authorities, developers, architects, agents, utilities, anything where archaeology is affected by planning. This morning after all the usual emails, messages etc, I’ve dealt with a utilites query – asking for mitigation where there are Bronze Age cairns in the area and explaining what that means for a below ground development. The first planning application is for methane gas extraction in an area of historic mining – ancient to modern archaeology in seconds! More tea please!

Day in the life of an archaeological planning officer

Our main method of finding out where development is going to occur is by checking the weekly planning list produced by the Local Planning authorities (LPA) each week. Two new ones, for Cardiff and Swansea, have been issued this morning so I go through them and note the applications that may have archaeological implications. Today there were 60 registered applications and I identified 11 that could have an impact on archaeological sites. I then checked those with the Historic Environment Record (HER) and also against the early editions of the Ordnance Survey (there are still a lot of post-medieval sites that are not included in the HER and sometimes we can spot these using the old maps). Three of the identified applications appear to be likely to have an impact on the archaeological resource so I enter them into our register so that detailed analysis and advice to the LPA can be prepared later.

Richard Lewis (Head of Projects) came to see me to explain that it appears that a major breach of a planning condition has occurred on a very sensitive archaeological site. I phone the relevant LPA only to find that the Officer dealing with the application and the Head of Planning are both at a meeting outside the Council’s offices. A helpful assistant promises to send me the full set of planning conditions for the development and gave me the name and direct telephone contact for the Enforcement Officer, in case I feel action is required.