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Archaeology in East Sussex: Historic Remains Mitigation

A wealth of greenfield land in East Sussex provides a multitude of options for developers, but not without the necessary archaeology survey to guarantee that no historic remains feature on or below the surface of the site.

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East Sussex’s Greenfield Sites

Although a predominantly countryside county, East Sussex has a mix of large rural districts and recognised urban areas. Nearly three-quarters of the county’s population live in these urban areas, with a vast number of untouched zones leaving opportunities for developers to propose development plans in desirable greenfield locations.

A county with available undeveloped land such as East Sussex will be an appetising endeavour for developers, particularly as a greenfield site lacks existing infrastructure from a previous development project. That said, an issue with untouched land is that nobody is fully aware of potential archaeological remains situated on the land or below the surface of the ground.

Ignoring the possibility of historic remains on the development site would run the risk of fines and delays later in the process. A more advisable approach would be to reach out to an archaeological consultancy early for an assessment on the site to determine whether archaeological remains are present and, if they are, find suitable solutions to any issues they cause.

Consideration to Archaeology from East Sussex County Council

Within East Sussex County Council, there is a department dedicated to archaeology. Alongside information on general archaeology, the East Sussex Historic Environment Record (HER), opportunities for residents to get involved with archaeology, and a feature that allows residents to contact the archaeology team, the council website details the relationship between heritage and planning.

In any planning project based in East Sussex, the archaeology department offers advice to developers prior to applications for planning permission, recommends archaeological work needed to successfully gain planning consent, and produces measures that ensure the preservation of historic remains within the county.

As the council work closely with an expert archaeology team, developers are urged to meet certain requirements or suffer issues in their pursuit of a planning condition on the site. Not only that but without adherence to relevant planning policies, a planning application is unlikely to even be considered. An effective way of guaranteeing compliance with the local council is by arranging an archaeology survey with a licensed and qualified archaeologist.

Assessment and Report for Archaeology

An assessment of archaeological remains will involve a set of desk-based assessments and an inspection of the site. The desk-based assessment will be used to research the specific plot of land, gauging whether any archaeological records could indicate historic importance and if there are any existing archaeological remains present. A physical analysis of the site will then be conducted, split between a surface survey and a geophysical survey.

Involving an overview of the entire development site, a surface survey will be used to identify visible historic remains. A geophysical survey will find features hidden underground, using highly-specialised equipment such as a ground penetrating radar (GPR) device. GPRs are designed to be driven over a site in a similar style to a lawnmower, but with radio waves firing downwards into the ground and the device registering once radio waves reflect backwards. Shorter distances are a likely indication of archaeological remains within the ground, and if the earlier research doesn’t explain it, the archaeological consultant might decide to excavate.

Further considerations may include existing building survey results, contours, earthworks and correspondence with the National Grid, and the archaeological surveyor could also include aerial photography, site discovery, walkovers and watching briefs. Upon completion of the assessment, an archaeology report will be created to detail the survey process, findings from the site and next steps that once initiated will demonstrate to the local planning authority that an application for planning permission can be granted.

Our Archaeological Consultancy

When a development project involves greenfield land or a site with registered historic importance, an archaeology survey would be needed to clarify the nature of the site and eliminate the likelihood of archaeological remains. Arbtech has archaeologists situated across the country, enabling us to cater to clients in East Sussex and practically any other area.

If you suspect that your site may apply to planning policies related to archaeology, we would suggest speaking to us today, giving us details about your site and project by calling us directly or filling out an online quote form, and allowing us to create a bespoke free quote for you to consider. Then, if you are happy with our valuation, give us the green light and we can identify a suitable time to send an archaeological consultant to your site, undertake an assessment and bolster your planning application.

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