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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.