archaeological planning officer

Day in the life of an archaeological planning officer 1pm

I have written a letter in response to a planning application for a residential development at the Caerphilly Miners Hospital. The hospital is an important feature in the local history and culture of Caerphilly. It was opened in 1923 after the local miners had collected money by means of a levy on their weekly wages in order to buy a large house, The Beeches, on the outskirts of the town and they converted it into a hospital. Some £30, 000 was collected by the miners (the mine owners contributed £3000!). Wards were added to the original building and initially there were 23 beds, but this soon increased to 84. At first the hospital was only for the miners and their families but in 1942 it became available to everybody and further expansion occurred.

The proposed development will see all of the additions to the original building demolished and it will be converted for community use with a residential developement being built around it. As such we have no objection to the proposals (the Beeches was built on a greenfield site and the extensive latter additions will have destroyed any buried archaeological features); however, the historical development of the site is of interest and in my letter I have recommended that a condition ensuring that a photographic record of the buildings is compiled before demolition commences and that the information is then placed in the HER.

Day in the life of an archaeological planning officer 11am

The good news is that we have sorted the potential beach of condition matter. The work that is being carried out is covered by a previous planning consent so the approval of a programme of investigation is not required for the on-going work, although they are meant to have an archaeologist present carrying out a watching brief and Richard has sent one of his team to the site to do it. Hopefully the results of the watching brief will assist in the preparation of a better programme of investigation when it is produced. It is amazing how much time can be spent sorting out possible breaches of conditions, but it must be done if we are going to ensure that the archaeology is protected.

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.

Day in the life of an archaeological planning officer

I am Neil Maylan and I work as the Archeological Planning Manager for the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust, based in Swansea, Wales. We provide advice to 13 local planning authorities in South East Wales and I hope to be able to provide a work diary for today.

I started my working day circa 7.30am. As part of my job I am responsible for the Trust’s IT network and e-mails, so my first job is to check the e-mails that have come in overnight, delete the vast number of spam messages that are sent to our open e-mail accounts and redirect any messages that have been wrongly addressed or sent to the open accounts and need to be answered by a specific member of staff.

I also check my own e-mails received over night, fortunately few today and read the weekly newsletter from the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) Maritime Affairs Group, which always has some fascinating information on an area of archaeology I really don’t know enough about.