London’s Undeveloped Areas
Although the City of London only accounts for 2.9km² of the 1,569km² of the broader region of Greater London, the presence of the city leads to natural assumptions that London is almost entirely urban. In reality, however, more than 60% of Greater London is classed as undeveloped land, posing a vast array of opportunities to plan and stage planning projects throughout the region.
Developers often pay more for conducting developments in the South compared to the North, with the price of land generally higher in Southern parts of the United Kingdom. Based on statistics from Farmers Weekly, for instance, the average cost of land across combined Northerly regions comes up to £7,005 per acre compared to £9,184 per acre for the average cost of land for all combined Southerly regions.
Despite the superior cost of land and the steady growth in other UK urban areas such as Liverpool and Manchester, London remains an immensely popular area to buy land. But in any project involving undeveloped land, the likelihood of developing on unknown historic places and discovering unexpected archaeological remains can act as a troublesome and concerning obstacle.
Effects of Historic Features on Development
A planning project can unearth a seemingly endless selection of potential stumbling blocks. As a result, developers with experience of the planning process are usually aware of the need for certain surveys and assessments. For example, developing an existing building could lead to the need for a Preliminary Roost Assessment (PRA) to ensure that no animals such as bats or birds are occupying affected areas, developing patches of land with trees present could lead to the need for a BS5837 tree survey to gauge the value and condition of all trees on the site, and developing on undeveloped land could lead to the need for ecology surveys to determine any ecological features in the local vicinity.
Likewise, undeveloped land, registered historic sites or developed land with patches that haven’t been disturbed may call for the need for an archaeological survey. The purpose of archaeological surveys and similar heritage services is to identify visible and hidden historic remains, and allow a licensed archaeological consultant to provide next steps that will eliminate any chance of harm coming to the archaeological materials and enable the development to move forwards.
Without consideration to archaeological features on the site or partly or completely submerged within the ground, the project may face potentially catastrophic, costly and time-consuming issues further into the process such as problems with drainage, subsidence or hazards caused by the specific historic remains. Due to featuring within multiple pieces of active legislation, it will also break UK law, leading to penalties, potentially including fines and imprisonment.
Archaeologist in London
For more than 15 years, Arbtech has been a leader in ecological and arboricultural survey services in the UK, offering coverage of all areas throughout the country as well as areas of mainland Europe upon request. With several of our consultants possessing experience in London’s archaeology, we opted to include archaeological surveys as part of our offering to clients.
Our archaeological surveyors hold the necessary qualifications, accreditations and licensing for carrying out archaeology assessments on the development sites of clients. Alongside professional education in artefact studies and essential reading of relevant book reviews and archaeological and historical articles, each London archaeologist also has personal skills that make them particularly effective in their role, such as the ability to provide a high standard of service, strong communication, and a comprehensive approach when it comes to developing next steps and advising clients or the planning department of the local council.
In more specific terms, our archaeological consultants possess degrees at bachelor’s or master’s level in relevant areas including artefact studies, ties to relevant archaeological bodies such as the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA), Historic England, the London Archaeologist Association and the City of London Archaeological Society (COLAS), extensive experience on projects in a variety of industries involving numerous archaeological methodologies, and an approach that prompts an effective survey process and reliable results.
Archaeological Assessments for Historic Remains
On a baseline level, a London archaeologist will suggest performing an archaeological survey on the site to determine the presence of historic remains. Prior to the assessment, the archaeological consultant will undertake a desk study as a method of retrieving any existing information in regards to historic sites and features on or near to the development site in question. A physical inspection of the site will follow immediately after, giving the archaeological surveyor an opportunity to analyse the site in its entirely and gather a list of all archaeological features and potential components that aren’t instantly visible.
During the visual inspection of the development site, London’s archaeology surveys will be split into two sections: a surface survey and a geophysical survey. Starting with the surface survey, the London archaeologist will look for evidence of historic remains on the surface of the site, and any indications of historic remains that could be situated below ground. If the desk study didn’t highlight any artefacts below ground that the surface inspection suggests, the assessment will call for a geophysical survey.
Below ground archaeological remains will be found through the geophysical survey using highly-specialised survey equipment. At this point, the archaeological surveyor will run a ground penetrating radar (GPR) device over the site, sending radio waves into the ground. Distances between the radio waves and the space below the ground will then indicate the presence of any unexpected elements, particularly as short distances travelled by the radio waves will indicate that other underground items are blocking the radio waves from moving any further.
Based on outcomes from the geophysical survey, the archaeological consultant may see a need to excavate the area, unearthing or at least determining the nature of the item located within the ground. Other methods and techniques that may be used as part of an archaeology survey include aerial photography, consideration over the National Grid, contours, earthworks, previous building plans, site discovery and evaluation, walkovers, and further observations about the archaeological site.
Survey Reports for Archaeology
Following our arboricultural and ecological surveys, we create a report to detail the assessment in terms of the general process, appropriate methodology and specific findings. The same applies to archaeological surveys, with our archaeology research and excavation reports featuring all of the information needed by developers and local authorities to ensure that planning projects are conducted with consideration to archaeological remains present on the site.
Created using details from the survey, clients will usually receive their completed archaeological report within a few days of the assessment. It can then be passed on to the local planning authority as part of the application for planning permission. Due to the insights and mitigation measures it contains, a completed archaeology report will display all of the information needed for local authorities to grant planning applications.
Request a Quote from Our London Archaeologists
Over the course of projects on undeveloped land, or on sites of historic importance, archaeological surveys would be needed. If this sounds like your development, we would suggest talking to Arbtech for an archaeological service with guaranteed quality. By communication with our team, we can give you an accurate quote based on your site and project, book in a time that suits your schedule, and help you with gaining a planning condition.
Speak to our team by visiting our contact page, calling us directly via the number at the top of this page, or filling out our online quote form. Our helpful team will then send you a free quote based on the information you provide them with, and if you are happy to move forwards, we can arrange a date to conduct an archaeological survey on your site. With the help of a professional London archaeologist, we will give you reliable results in a comprehensive format and get your project through planning.