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Is there a North-South divide?
#1
This question has come up a couple of times on other discussions, and it seems fair to chew it over on its own. Is there a real difference in the "Archaeological Experience" in the North to that in the South of England? Are there different pressures affecting the way curatorial advice is given, decisions are justified and how that advice accepted by planners and planning inspectors? How does that change the way work is done on site (more watching briefs in the north seems to be a common theme). What could be the reasons behind this? Also, do units act differently in different areas - For example, I and colleagues I know in nearby counties find that northern-based units working in the area are sometimes recommending watching briefs as the next stage of work in the conclusions to desk-based assessments, when an evaluation is clearly warranted.

To start off, an abbreviated form of my previous posting said:

"I'm quite happy to recommend an evaluation on a one-house development, although it doesn't happen very often. I did this morning, on an undesignated site, based on information from the local society that medieval artefacts have been coming from the area. I'm quite happy to justify it to the planners (but rarely have to in any depth beyond a letter), and the question of whether or not it is going to cost the developers a prohibitive anount of money is not one I'm bothered about. However, I'm quite lucky in that house prices here are so ludicrous that the cost of such an evaluation would be swallowed up in most circumstances by the likely inflation of the house's selling price between the start of the development project and its completion.

I'm wondering if development pressures in the south mean that developers and planners have become accustomed to more stringent archaeological work programmes quicker than in the north, whilst the high selling prices in the south mean that the costs of such programmes are more readily absorbed or passed on the the eventual customer."

It seems there is a lot to talk about here - lets see if we can work out any regional trends...

Discuss!Smile
<i>\"I\'m a time traveller. I point and laugh at archaeologists.\"</i>
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#2
North south divide - what country do you live in?
Curator Kid,said
"I'm quite lucky in that house prices here are so ludicrous that the cost of such an evaluation would be swallowed up in most circumstances by the likely inflation of the house's selling price between the start of the development project and its completion".

Please tell us which part of the country still has rising prices so that we can alll invest there?

There are difference from county to county, region to region in the way PPG 16 operates. The south is not characterised by high house prices and the north by mills, coal tips, and flat caps in any event.

In any event it is not the price of the new house that is important it is the profit margin. At present in the south-east profit margins are depressed so many small developers are not developing.

Curators should be bothered about the cost of archaeology causing a development to go ahead because it amounts to a refusal. A planning condition must be fair reasonable and practicable. At one appeal the inspector zapped the archaeology because it was too expensive.

The argument of watching brief/evaluation is a none starter - an evaluation is always cheaper in real terms particularly on a small development. The problem is if nothing is found on the evaluation then the cuaror still wanting a watching brief.

If nothing is found then there is no real issue with either a watching brief or an evaluation the problems and costs only starts when there is significant archaeology and cost.

Local Planning Authorites make several calls on the developers profits - contributions to housing, education, open spaces and similar. Add archaeology to that and the figures can eaily not stack up. There is also the issue of the social/affordable housing quotas.

One year Bloor Homes made 0.5% return on capital funding on their house building operations. Even with soft south east house prices archaeology can make developments not profitable.

A significant about of new houses in the SE are social/affordable housing where exceptions to the planning system have been made and are projects funded by the state and undertaken by not for profit organisations.

Peter
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#3
In the south,Stonehenge is now the focus (if not a flawed stalemate)of much attention and care. Thornborough is the subject of ravaging by gravel extraction and mass muppetry. Divide?
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#4
Should decisions on whether a "finite resource" such as archaeology be solely based on the cost to a developer? If the archaeology has a value, both monetary and cultural (as I presume we here all believe it does) if a developer cannot afford it then so be it, I suggest that it is right and proper that the development does not go ahead.

Archaeology has an absolute, not a relative value. Or, the same remains in different parts of the country or different circumstances, are the same remains and have the same real value. It cannot be right for their location in our present landscape to cause one to be treated proparly and the other trashed.

Today, Bradford. Tomorrow, well, Bradford probably.
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#5
In my experience yes there is a divide.
I know of one example where in a Northern county the DC officer only put a short watching brief on a development in the centre of a small medieval town. A while later he got a call from the new English heritage officer for the region saying how disappointed he was that he hadn't asked for pre-determination evaluation. The DC officer replied with a: there wont be anything there and b: the planning officers wont put on evaluations unless you can REALLY justify it.
Anyway the new EH bloke wrote to the Borough planning officers asking to meet them to discuss the matter to which they replied "We don't see any benefit in having a meeting with a minor central government bureaucrat".
Basically it goes like this. The archaeology in the North is generally less complex (a good assemblage of medieval pot sherds from an excavation in some counties is a dozen) and the planning officers hate anything that gets in the way of "regeneration" so justifying the planning conditions can be extremely difficult.


Doesn't ring a bell :?
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#6
Any chance of further and better particulars about which bit of "the North" you're talking about? (obviously not the actual place or curator involved - AUP and all that).

I have to say that this doesn't really fit my own experience of working up country, where we usually involve EH and the DC archaeologists from the outset.

D. Vader
Senior Consultant

Vader Maull & Palpatine
Archaeological Consultants

Not just there for the rotten things in life like a blocked wormhole
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#7
Quote:quote:Originally posted by the invisible man

...Archaeology has an absolute, not a relative value. Or, the same remains in different parts of the country or different circumstances, are the same remains and have the same real value. It cannot be right for their location in our present landscape to cause one to be treated proparly and the other trashed.

Today, Bradford. Tomorrow, well, Bradford probably.

I had a particular issue with something along these lines recently to do with ridge and furrow field systems. Until recently, centrally there were more in existance therefore protection for them was less than those in for example Hampshire where there were fewer. I can't say I disagree with your point Inv Man, but certainly I would say that all archaeology has a baseline importance, with some being more so (i feel myself moving towards all archaeological sites are equal, its just some are more equal than others - misquote heaven). This goes towards the point of dealing with the archaeological resource on a regional basis, and possibly from the curators point of view picking the fights you think you have a cat in hells chance of winning (which is a thoroughly shabby state of affairsSad).
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#8
Sad but true.... often we feel we have to fight that which we can win rather than expend all our time trying to win that which we can't...

ie... in scotland we stand more chance of forcing an issue on a Roman (rare) field system rather than a medieval opencast mine in the Lothians (common) or a golf course (deemed important to Scotland) than a croft... (we have lots of those don't we ... er... at this rate... we won't)

A regional analysis of what is and is not important is both good and dangerous, but in a way goes along with what I was thinking about education as well. Teach History ... yes! add to that the regional background and it all makes sense... ie... ROman Villas actually mean nothing to people in Aberdeenshire as they do not have any... their ROman history is 'different' to Sussex. in contrast... Brocks play a vital part of the regional history of NorthEastr Scotland, but are really not that important to those in Sussex. (not meaning they should not be taught... but regional bias should also be pushed to the fore)

In general I agree that some form of regional catagorisation of what is important should be implemented. I had the feeling that HIstoic Scotland 'new' system for scheduling was taking that into account, which for HS is impressive foresight.

Another day another WSI?
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#9
Quote:quote:Originally posted by BAJR Host

In general I agree that some form of regional catagorisation of what is important should be implemented.

Is this not much the same as developing regional research agendas? Many places in England already have those, but they seem to be applied somewhat irregularly, and I have seen them used as an excuse to record a minimal amount of detail on development sites so they do not always work as intended.

It would certainly be interesting to see a more regional flavour imparted to history lessons in schools through this approach, and I might have enjoyed history more in school had this been done. On the other hand, I only really started to enjoy history when I got to university, and realised that the "facts" were not as absolute as I had been led to believe in school.

Cheers,
Eggbasket
Gentleman Adventurer and Periphrastic Sesquipedalian

Preternatural eventuation is an amaranthine potentiality
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#10
Quote:quote:Originally posted by BAJR Host

in contrast... Brocks play a vital part of the regional history of NorthEastr Scotland

Brocks? Is that a BADGERism? Wink

D. Vader
Senior Consultant

Vader Maull & Palpatine
Archaeological Consultants

Not just there for the rotten things in life like a blocked wormhole
Reply


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