Archaeological Planning and Countryside Advice

The Archaeology Service gives advice about the conservation of Suffolk's historic environment

Archaeology and development

Since 1990 the protection and recording of archaeology has followed central government guidelines, initially set out in Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) 16, Archaeology and Planning and PPG 15, Planning and the Historic Environment. In March 2010 the government replaced these Guidance documents with Planning Policy Statement 5, Planning for the Historic Environment, which has supporting advice by English Heritage. From April 2012 the PPS was replaced by a shorter but similar policy within the National Planning Policy Framework.

From 1st March 2014 we are introducing charges for archaeological pre-application and post-consent planning advice. Further details can be found on our Planning and Countryside Advice page. Full details are set out in the Archaeology Charging Schedule (PDF, 32kb).

Planning advice can be requested by completing this form.

Early consultation

Applicants should be aware that archaeological investigations can have considerable time and cost implications. You are strongly advised to contact us at the earliest opportunity to discuss the potential implications of any proposed development, preferably before submitting a planning application. Early consultation will ensure that any necessary archaeological work will not create unexpected problems.

You must supply adequate information with a planning application if there is a possible impact on a ‘heritage asset’ – which could be a building, a ruin, below-ground features or deposits, earthworks or other historic landscape features. A supporting Heritage Statement can simply summarise and interpret the available evidence from the Historic Environment Record, but a large development or a sensitive location may need to include the results of an archaeological field evaluation or a historic building analysis. If there is insufficient information about heritage assets for us to make a planning recommendation, we will request an assessment before the application is determined.

Archaeological conditions on a planning consent

We are consulted by the district council planning authorities about all applications that affect the area of a known site. We also check applications in areas of high archaeological potential such as river valleys, village centres and large developments.

If there is sufficient information we will recommend one of the following decisions to the district council planning authority:

  • No objection, consent can be granted as there will be little or no damage to any heritage asset
  • Consent can be granted with a condition such as:
    “ No development shall take place within the area indicated [the whole site] until the implementation of a programme of archaeological work has been secured, in accordance with a Written Scheme of Investigation which has been submitted  to  and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.” The planning authorities have now agreed a more detailed archaeological condition (PDF, 38kb). 
  • Refusal of consent (this would usually only apply to nationally important sites or where there was inadequate information with the planning application).

Archaeological works

We will, on request, specify exactly what archaeological works will be required for submission with a planning application or to satisfy an archaeological condition. The applicant/developer can then use this specification to get a quotation from an archaeological contractor and appoint them to carry out the work. The first stage is to prepare a written scheme of investigation (WSI) for the work.

Archaeological contractors must be approved by us as competent to undertake the work. A list of registered archaeological organisations is maintained by the Institute for Archaeologists.

We will monitor the work of the archaeological contractor to make sure that the specified work is carried out in full and to the required standard (see further advice on standards below). Once the work is complete and your contractor has provided a satisfactory report we will inform the local planning authority that the condition can be discharged.

Archaeology and the countryside

Suffolk is rich in archaeological monuments and sites of historic interest, as well as having a fine collection of listed buildings. These sites are set in one of the oldest settled landscapes in England. To enhance the value of the county's historic assets, we provides advice to farmers, landowners and the public on issues relating to the archaeological sites and the historic landscape of your farm or in your area, including advice for Natural England's Environmental Stewardship (ELS) and (HLS) schemes.

Advice for archaeological contractors

Guidelines are available with our standard requirements for geophysical surveys (PDF, 29kb), palaeoenvironmental assessments (PDF, 38kb), trenched evaluations (PDF, 56kb) and excavations (PDF, 62kb).

Essential information about requirements for archaeological archive deposition in Suffolk (PDF, 81kb).

The Research Framework for Eastern England has recently been updated and can be downloaded from the East Anglian Archaeology website

The contact list will let you find individual staff within the Conservation team, who are based at 9-10 The Churchyard, Shire Hall, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 1RX or telephone 01284 741230.

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