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Consultants sought for Curatorial Standards and guidance project
#71
On a slightly different tack...

Theres a job starting next week (one I did the evaluation for a while back) where the planning permission for a new house includes a detailed spec for the building/footings, which we practically designed for them to avoid known archaeology, but the services/drains are all 'indicative' on the passed plans, ie the builders have carte blanche to trash what they want doing those, with just a watching brief specified. Does this happen everywhere or is this just a local quirk, and (if so) would this be the type of thing covered by the proposed IFA standards, or wouldn't they go into that sort of fine detail?
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#72
"This creates the odd situation where very similar types of work on similar sites have completely different conditions. If I were a developer I would find this very frustrating, or a handy means of getting a condition removed - 'you didn't ask for it on the virtually identical site just down the road'." - - - - - - surely a worry for everybody?
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#73
RedEarth's experience of local planners and inconsistences is very much the same as mine I suspect we must work in the same area or the problem is very wide spread. Round here one local Government set up has got rid of their County archeaologist so who knows where the planners will be getting their archeaological advice ( if any).

As for Dinosaur's last post I have also come across the problem with drainage and other utilites and support infra structures which are often more intrusive than the new building. This is especially true on smaller projects. On large scale development it is part and parcel of the job and tends to get factored in. It would help if those setting the level of archaeological mitigation understood these impacts and had actually seen what installing these things does to a site. ( I hate car parks which with grading of slopes, drainage systems & digging out to give the depth to the hard core can be very damaging)
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#74
Wax Wrote:Round here one local Government set up has got rid of their County archeaologist so who knows where the planners will be getting their archeaological advice ( if any).

There's also one Scottish council where the HER is maintained by a planning assistant with (so far as I'm aware) no archaeological experience. When a planner thinks that there may be an archaeological issue, they pay for a commercial consultant to provide the archaeological advice. The problem with this is that it relies on the judgement of the planner to determine that there's an issue and that they need archaeological input, the consultant is unable to independently identify or raise issues. From the outside, it seems that the planners are either:

a) adopting a far too simplistic approach to identifying potential issues, ie, if there's not a 'dot-on-the-map' indicating a site within the development area, then there's no issue (leaving aside the fact that each 'dot' may represent an extensive site, the fact that a lot of 'dots' in the surrounding landscape may indicate the potential presence of additional sites within the application area, and that those 'dots' only represent previously-recorded sites, with the possibility that further material may exist below ground level),

b) that the planners don't really understand archaeology and would prefer to ignore the issue, so don't get the consultant involved for the sake of avoiding complications or

c) that they've been instructed not to get the consultant involved too often, as each time they do, it costs money.

Whatever the reason, the result is that there appears to have been very little development control work done in this Council area over the last couple of years, and that which has taken place appears to be a legacy of the previous regime (work which already had planning consent with an archaeological condition attached).

This is not a criticism of the consultancy involved - they're only able to work within the constraints of their contract with the Council, and it's probably better to have this minimal level of service than nothing at all. If you were to ask the Council concerned, however, they'd doubtless say that they consider that they're dealing with archaeology correctly, citing the fact that they have someone maintaining a HER and have access to specialist advice. However, the devil is in the detail of how these two elements fit together - if the person maintaining the HER is purely responsible for the record with no requirement to interpret it and provide specialist advice, then the consultant is rarely involved, and so seldom has the opportunity to ask for work.
You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum
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#75
Another long post - sorry! When I'm typing them, they don't seem so wordy, but when I click 'post reply', they take up half the screen!
You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum
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#76
That's all just scary! I've been involved in a project where, for whatever reason, the local council weren't talking to the County and hence weren't using the archaeological curatorial services provided by same - luckily everyone seemed to happy (either officially or unofficially) to go with what we recommended as the consultant/contractor (the planner from the District not being too up on archaeological matters), and so the whole thing worked out fine, but it really wasn't an ideal situation and its worrying that thistype of situation may become more commonplace Sad
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#77
In principle the idea of standards for archaeological curators is one that I cannot have any reason to object to. I do however wonder how valuable they will actually be in real-life. There are already a number of existing IfA Standards & Guidance papers, but to what extent do they actually have any effect on the standard of archaeological work being undertaken in the field? Other than being referenced in specifications/WSIs/reports how often do field archaeologists actually use the standards and guidance? I also wonder how these Standards and Guidance will be enforced. The IFA appear to be toothless in this respect. Locally we have one unit that consistently produces sub-standard work (which whilst not a RAO is headed up by a MIfA), but the IfA seem to be reluctant to help in either discipline or working together to help improve standards. The work generated trying to sort out this company puts a lot of extra pressure on the local curators, whose resources are already stretched.
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#78
Wax Wrote:RedEarth's experience of local planners and inconsistences is very much the same as mine I suspect we must work in the same area or the problem is very wide spread. Round here one local Government set up has got rid of their County archeaologist so who knows where the planners will be getting their archeaological advice ( if any).


I fear it is quite likely to be the case that this issue is simply very wide spread, especially based on some of the other responses,such as from Marcus. If in some cases the final or even main decision is being made by an non- or under-qualified local planner without relevant experience then what is the point of PPGs or PPSs? They probably wouldn't dare do it in the case of protected species/habitat issues in a similar vein due to the risk of being prosecuted (although I could be wrong) but if a previously unknown archaeological site gets destroyed on the quiet because someone who didn't know what they were talking about made the decision, then's what comeback is there? The loss of a curator in an entire area (I know where you mean) is just perverse. Again, have they entirely disposed of people in similar roles? I have been tempted to query or complain on the basis of being a concerned local resident as well as an archaeologist but the potential fallout from a work point of view is a bit worrying.
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#79
Surely your employer should be equally concerned? (and potentially glad that a 'concerned local citizen' is raising the issue for them) After all, sites getting destroyed 'on the quiet' means lost business for them, that's certainly seems to be the view around here although the problem isn't too critical in the immediate area just yet, although it may be coming....the unavailability of a certain HER could be rather inconvenient though Sad
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#80
Depends who you work for, your local council might not appreciate its employees blowing the whistle on internal bad practice. It is also possible RedEarth meant that a lack of archaeological conditions is leading to work drying up for commercial archeaology.

"Concerned local citizens" may be the only way forward. With planning apps on line local archaeology groups could monitor them and inquire of their local planning office wether the archeaological potential of sites has been a consideration in the setting of planning conditions and if not why not. The HER and hertiage advisors are under serious threat in many regions as they are a soft target for local Government cuts.
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