Archaeological planning and countryside advice

Our Archaeology Service offers advice and information about the conservation of Suffolk's historic environment.

Archaeological planning advice

In line with government policy, Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service (SCCAS) provides archaeological advice in relation to the planning process to:

  • local district councils
  • developers and land agents
  • mineral planning authorities
  • utilities services
  • archaeological organisations

The protection and recording of archaeology follows guidelines set out by central government and by archaeological organisations:

  • The Planning Policy Statement within the National Planning Policy Framework, which aims to make the planning process easier and more accessible
  • Good Practice Advice notes by Historic England, the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) and the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO)

The NPPF recognises that heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource and that they should be conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance.

Before submitting a planning application

The potential archaeological implications of development should be considered at as early a stage as possible in a development proposal. This will ensure that necessary archaeological work does not cause any unexpected problems, or introduce unexpected time and costs in project programmes

We are happy to discuss the archaeological potential of any proposed developments and provide free advice on the archaeological requirements for projects. For large development schemes, in particular, we strongly recommend consultation with us before a planning application is submitted.

In order to understand the archaeological requirements for a project, please send details of your proposal along with plans to archaeology@suffolk.gov.uk. One of our archaeological officers will contact you with our advice.  

Information to be submitted with a planning application

You may be required to include a Desk Based Assessment with your application, which summarises and interprets the available evidence from the Historic Environment Record and other relevant sources. Upon request, we can provide guidance on whether this document is necessary for your proposal and on the appropriate contents should an assessment be required.

You may also be required to include the results of field evaluation with a planning application. This could comprise a combination of geophysical survey, field walking or metal detecting, and trenched archaeological evaluation. 

We will advise the need for pre-determination evaluation on sites where there is greater potential for damage to significant archaeological remains, and which have not been subject to systematic evaluation, such as those that:

  • Contain or are adjacent to sites of significance recorded on the HER
  • are in areas of known high archaeological potential, such as river valleys
  • are larger sites which by their very nature have greater potential to impact on sites

On these sites, pre-determination archaeological evaluation to establish whether or not significant remains will require preservation in-situ, contributes to assessment of deliverability. It also de-risks projects by enabling informed assessment of the scale and timing of mitigation and investigation, appropriate to development impacts.

After submitting a planning application

We are consulted by the district council planning authorities about all applications that affect the area of a known archaeological site recorded in the County Historic Environment Record (HER).

We also check applications in areas of high archaeological potential, such as river valleys and town/village centres and any proposals for large scale development.

Where archaeological implications or potential is identified, we will recommend one of the following decisions to the district council planning authority:

  1. Pre-determination evaluation in line with paragraphs 128-9 of the NPPF
  2. Condition(s) on consent to secure a scheme of investigation and/or mitigation (Standard conditions SCCAS recommends to LPAs can be viewed on The Archaeological Condition (PDF, 38KB), but these may be tailored for individual developments).
  3. Refusal of an application on archaeological grounds or suggested amendments to proposals to avoid refusal

How archaeological works are arranged

The SCCAS Development Management Advice flowchart will take you through the archaeological processes that we follow to ensure that developments are delivered in line with Chapter 12 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

View the Archaeology Charging Schedule (PDF, 266KB) for details of our development management charges.

If your planning application has been given consent subject to archaeological conditions, or a scheme of pre-determination archaeological investigation has been requested, the following steps will need to be undertaken to enable you to secure a programme of archaeological work:

  • On request Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service will produce a brief which specifies the archaeological works required to satisfy an archaeological condition or to provide sufficient information to allow an application to be determined. One or more of the following evaluation or mitigation techniques may be required: geophysical survey, trial trenched evaluation, metal detecting, field-walking, historic building survey or recording, palaeoenvironmental work, archaeological excavation or archaeological monitoring of groundworks
  • The applicant/developer can then use this specification to get a quote from an independent archaeological contractor, and appoint them to carry out the work. A list of registered archaeological organisations is maintained by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. 
  • The appointed contractor will then be required produce a written scheme of investigation (WSI), guided by the brief, which will need to be sent back to ourselves for approval before any archaeological work commences.
  • Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service will then monitor the work of the archaeological contractor to make sure that the specified work is carried out in full and to the required standard.
  • Once the work is complete and your contractor has provided a satisfactory report, Suffolk County Council will inform the local planning authority whether the archaeological application can be determined/archaeological conditions can be discharged or if further archaeological investigation/mitigation is required. Additional phases of archaeological work will need to be subject to a separate brief and WSI.

SCC encourages public outreach relating to archaeology as best practice

Advice for contractors

Our briefs provide detailed guidance on the specific requirements for each scheme of archaeological investigation. However, the following documents outline our standard requirements for different types of archaeological survey:

Guidance set out in ‘Standards for Field Archaeology in the East of England’- Gurney, 2003 should also be followed, alongside the Good Practice Advice notes by Historic England, the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) and the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO)

All fieldwork projects will need an up to date HER search, an HER site and event code and be registered with OASIS. Find out about the Historic Environment Record (HER).

Archaeological work in the county is also expected to be carried out in accordance with regional and national research frameworks.

Approved final reports will be requested for the Suffolk Historic Environment Record and for dissemination nationally through the Archaeology Data Service.

Provision must be made for the site archive to be prepared for deposition in the agreed store in line with Suffolk’s Archaeological Collections Policy.

Countryside advice

Countryside stewardship schemes can offer landowners payments for managing and protecting archaeological sites on their land. See further information regarding Countryside Stewardship and how to apply. SCCAS can help you to identify sites of interest on your land and show how the conservation of historic features need not conflict with good agricultural practice. Advice and assistance with the archaeological element of countryside stewardship schemes is also available.

SCCAS is also happy to offer free archaeological advice relating to Woodland Management Plans, tree planting or felling proposals, EIA (agriculture) applications, river improvement works and other similar schemes.

How to contact us

The contact list (PDF, 25KB) gives details for members of the planning team, who are based at:

Bury Resource Centre,
Hollow Road,
Bury St Edmunds,
IP32 7AY

Alternatively please contact us:

Leaflet

We have created a leaflet (PDF, 1.6MB) for information purposes.