Archaeology and Urban Development: Southwark- London’s first suburb

Southwark’s archaeological record is one of the richest in London and contains remains of national and international importance. Continuous historical occupation, particularly in the Roman and Anglo-Saxon Period, has resulted in a deep and complex archaeological sequence.

Archaeological priority zones in Southwark include Borough, Bermondsey, Riverside, Peckham and Camberwell Village and Old Kent Road. These are based on local archaeological and historical information. Read more here

The following is a brief outline of the archaeological conditions within the planning process, with Southwark as an example.

Pre-planning application advice

The archaeological potential of the site is discussed, whether the proposed development falls within the priority zone or not. At this stage, advice is sought from the Council’s Archaeology Officer.

If the land proposed for development affects scheduled ancient monuments, this should be discussed with the inspector for Ancient Monuments at English Heritage. If the development gains Scheduled Monument consent, English Heritage provides funds for the majority of excavation costs. Failure to comply with the above will result in delays once the application has been submitted.

Archaeological Evaluation

The evaluation will establish the potential and significance of the archaeological remains if they were to survive. This will help to decide whether the remains need to be preserved in situ, and if so how that might be achieved e.g. using sympathetic foundations or designing new foundations to avoid the deposits.

If the results indicate the presence of important remains and the development proposals do not allow preservation, planning permission may be refused. The Council may also refuse planning if there is a lack of information due to the developer’s unwillingness to commission an assessment or evaluation.

Mitigation strategy

The Council will decide whether any additional archaeological investigation is to be carried out. If further works are imposed, the planners, archaeologists and developer decide whether to go ahead with a rescue excavation (preservation by record) or the use of sympathetic foundations which will minimise damage. Which ever is decided, the developer must submit a specification of works which must be approved by the Council before the investigation and development continues.

Courtesy:Google Images

Read more on Planning Policy Guidance 16: Archaeology and Planning, 1990 and English Heritage London Archaeological Advisors and Inspector of Ancient Monuments here.

courtesy of Natalie White, Archaeology Major and Senior Assistant at Anderson, Wilde and Harris

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