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Model Planning Conditions (Planning Inspectorate 2010)

Submission from ALGAO:England/Planning & Legislation Committee

ALGAO is the national body representing local government archaeology services at County, District, Metropolitan, Unitary and National Park authority level. These provide advice to nearly all the District, Unitary and other local government bodies in the country. ALGAO: England co-ordinates the views of its member authorities (106 in total) and presents them to government and to other national organisations. It also acts as an advisor to the Local Government Association (LGA) on archaeological matters. The range of interests of our members embraces all aspects of the historic environment, including archaeology, buildings and the historic landscape.

The historic environment is vulnerable to change, once destroyed archaeological evidence is lost for ever. Mitigation strategies can be developed for historic assets that are under threat, the broad approach is set out in PPG15: Planning and the Historic Environment (1994); and PPG 16: Planning and Archaeology (1990) – which are to be updated in PPS 15 and its supporting Guidance. Where preservation in situ cannot be achieved, recording of archaeology by excavation or building analysis is possible. The historic environment can make a positive contribution to planning for new development and new communities, and promoting a sense of place, but needs to be assessed and integrated into the planning process from the start of the decision-making process.

We welcome this valuable opportunity to review and revise the model planning conditions in relation to the historic environment, that are current in the planning system. Some are `long in the tooth’, and predate subsequent developments in planning policy. As practices have developed in response to changing policies so some older conditions have become outdated. The practical implementation of others has thrown up wording difficulties leading to variable interpretation and uncertainty.

The CLG proposals to improve the use and discharge of planning conditions provide a useful opportunity to clarify the archaeological process. To provide developers and planning authorities greater clarity, and therefore certainty, in what is to be achieved, and when planning obligations have been met.

Archaeology Conditions

We urge you to delete the condition:

The developer shall afford access at all reasonable times to any archaeologist
nominated by the local planning authority and shall allow him to observe the
excavations and record items of interest and finds.

This is unenforceable, and thus unreasonable. Our members have found this has given rise to confusion, uncertainty, and dispute; nor does it clearly obligate a developer to mitigate the impact of their development on the historic environment. The similarly worded condition in relation to Listed Buildings is equally ineffectual, and should also be deleted. Any archaeological investigation (including building recording) can be secured using a Grampian condition, as below, which secures a scheme of works that can be tailored to the circumstances of the development.

Archaeological Investigation
We would amend the condition:

No development shall take place within the area indicated until the applicant or
their agents or their successors in title has secured the implementation of a
programme of archaeological work in accordance with a written scheme of
investigation which has been submitted by the applicant and approved in writing
by the local planning authority

This condition, introduced in PPG 16 1990, has proved valuable in securing the obligation on the planning applicant or developer to mitigate the impact of their scheme on the historic environment. However an archaeological programme of works (whether recording below ground remains or above ground structures) comprises a number of stages, not all of which can, reasonably, be implemented before development commences. Whilst these are described in PPG 16, they are not explicit in the wording of the condition. In summary they are:

  • Site investigation, prior to, or sometimes integrated with, construction ground works
  • An assessment of the discoveries on completion of the site investigation, with proposals for their analysis
  • The analysis and publication of the discoveries, and the deposition of the site archive
    • Development may commence once the site investigation is complete;
    • The assessment can take place after the development has commenced
    • A full analysis, publication, and archive deposition may take some years to complete, particularly for large or complex investigations.

The wording of the standard condition has proved contentious, particularly over what is required by it, and when any obligations on the applicant/developer have been satisfied. This illustrates the Killian Pretty Review’s concerns, to make it easier for applicants to understand the terms of conditions, that we believe can be addressed by amending the single condition, to provide clarity on what comprises an archaeological programme of works. This could be incorporated into a structured decision notice.The programme could be expressed in stages of a single condition, or in separate, linked, conditions that might refer back to one another, but could be grouped by type on the decision notice, thus:

Recommended wording Programme of Investigation

A) No demolition/development shall take place/commence until a programme of archaeological work including a Written Scheme of Investigation has been submitted to and approved by the local planning authority in writing. The scheme shall include an assessment of significance and research questions; and:

  1. The programme and methodology of site investigation and recording
  2. The programme for post investigation assessment
  3. Provision to be made for analysis of the site investigation and recording
  4. Provision to be made for publication and dissemination of the analysis and records of the site investigation
  5. Provision to be made for archive deposition of the analysis and records of the site investigation
  6. Nomination of a competent person or persons/organisation to undertake the works set out within the Written Scheme of Investigation.

B) No demolition/development shall take place other than in accordance with the Written Scheme of Investigation approved under condition (A).

C) The development shall not be occupied until the site investigation and post investigation assessment has been completed in accordance with the programme set out in the Written Scheme of Investigation approved under condition (A) and the provision made for analysis, publication and dissemination of results and archive deposition has been secured.

Fencing Protection

We would retain this condition.

Recommended wording
No development shall commence until fencing has been erected around the area agreed with, and to a design approved by, the Local Planning Authority in writing. No works shall take place within the area inside that fencing unless approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

This has proved most useful in protecting archaeologicaly sensitive areas within larger sites, as well as structural remains and other features, during demolition and construction operations.

Preservation of Archaeological Remains in situ

Recommended wording
Before any works hereby permitted are begun, details of the [basement, foundations, piling configuration, drainage and services], to include a detailed design and method statement, shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority, such details to show the preservation of surviving archaeological remains which are to remain in situ.

Unless otherwise approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority, the basement, foundations and piling configuration shall be constructed in accordance with the details set out on drawings numbered [xxx] and the method statement approved by the Local Planning Authority.

Where they are likely to survive, the need to protect important archaeological remains was established in PPG 16, and reiterated in the consultation drafts of PPS 15 and its supporting guidance. Full details of the extent of any archaeology may not be clear until the site investigation has taken place, which will typically be secured post-determination. Thus, if the full details are not available pre-determination, the final design cannot be completed until the site investigation is completed. It has therefore proved necessary to reserve final design details until all the information is in hand. The proposed conditions above are those that have been used for some time in the City of London, similar ones have been used elsewhere, particularly in historic urban centres, such as Bath.

Unexpected discoveries

Suggested wording
Any historic or archaeological features not previously identified which are revealed when carrying out the development hereby permitted shall be retained in-situ and reported to the local Planning authority in writing within [..] working days. Works shall be halted in the area/part of the building affected until provision has been made for the retention and/or recording in accordance with details submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority.

The issue of unexpected discoveries was discussed in PPG 16, para. 31, and has also been covered in the consultation drafts of PPS 15 and its guidance. These considerations fail to provide certainty on any course of action for the applicant, and it is intended that this condition wording should clarify that.

ALGAO Planning and Legislation Committee

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