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Archaeology in Oxfordshire: Historic Remains on Sites

Historic remains can dwell on or beneath the surface of development sites, particularly if it is an untouched site with no previous infrastructure. Ensure that you meet the requirements of Oxfordshire County Council by booking an archaeology survey, or face issues with securing planning consent.

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Oxfordshire Greenfield

A famously historic part of England, Oxfordshire displays a variety of rural and urban locations, including part of the Cotswolds and numerous small towns, villages and preserved hamlets. Featuring an abundance of green areas, the county is classed as the least densely populated county in South East England and contains 1,287 hectares of green belt land in the City of Oxford alone.

In terms of the number of remaining greenfield areas, each part of the county shows differing figures for existing developments. The percentage for built-on areas is 8% for Cherwell, 7% for the Vale of White Horse, 6% for both East Oxfordshire and South Oxfordshire, and 5% for West Oxfordshire. Even though Oxfordshire has plenty of untouched lands, it isn’t to say that the local council will allow a planning project to harm natural areas unnecessarily.

Greenfield land is typically more desirable to developers than brownfield land because it comes without existing infrastructure. Without past developments on the site, however, it can be difficult to know what elements dwell within the ground, and if there has been no intervention whatsoever, protected historic remains may be present. It is the responsibility of the developer to initiate assessments and identify or eliminate the presence of archaeological features, or face delays, fines and struggles with gaining planning consent.

Archaeology Services for the Local Council

Due to the clear relationship between archaeology and planning, the Oxfordshire County Council website has a dedicated section for archaeology. Included are parts on archaeological sites, the Historic Environment Record (HER) and landscape characterisation. It also references archaeological planning guidance, and how the local planning authority benefits from the expertise and insights of trained archaeologists.

While the archaeologists operating on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council provide advice to developers on planning projects with archaeological implications, they also play a significant role in supporting the local council with planning policies that relate to archaeology and applications for planning permission involving historic sites and features.

In order for developers to meet the requirements of the local council, they need the guidance of an archaeologist and assurances that their development site doesn’t possess historic remains, or if it does, that suitable steps can be taken to allow the project to move forward. It is possible to do this by booking an archaeology survey, and in turn, the accompanying archaeology report will help the process of gaining a planning condition on the site.

Analysis of Archaeological Remains

An archaeology survey on a site will begin with the archaeological consultant carrying out desk-based assessments to find existing data about the site in regard to known historic value. It will then move on to a site visit to analyse the entirety of the site first-hand, including a surface survey to identify visible historic features above ground and a geophysical survey to identify invisible historic features below ground.

During the geophysical survey, a ground penetrating radar (GPR) device is used alongside other highly specialised equipment to gauge whether any archaeological remains dwell within the ground. It does this by sending radio waves into the ground, bouncing off objects and surfaces, and returning back to the device. Any shorter distances could be a sign of historic remains, particularly if none of the information from the desk-based assessment points towards an explanation.

As well as the desk-based assessment and the two different types of site inspection, the archaeological surveyor may decide to involve other considerations, such as contours, earthworks, the results of existing building surveys and proximity to the National Grid. It may also be applicable to factor in aerial photography, watching briefs, site discovery and walkovers.

Once the survey has been completed, the archaeologist in charge of the process will develop an archaeology survey report to detail their findings. With all of the necessary information included, the archaeology report can then be passed on to the planning officer from the local planning authority, giving them all of the evidence they need to ease any qualms about the site, address historic remains correctly and eliminate any obstacles that would otherwise hinder a planning application.

Book an Archaeological Assessment Now

Development sites that feature untouched land or hold notable historic importance would require an archaeology survey to ensure that present archaeological remains are treated accordingly. The archaeological consultants in the ranks at Arbtech are suitably educated, trained and licensed to undertake archaeology surveys, and as they are situated all over the country, we can attend your site in Oxfordshire or the broader South East region.

Before you commit to us, you can receive a free quote based on the specifications of your site and project. Speak to us by calling us directly over the phone or filling out a quote form online, and once you have given us the information we need, we will send you an estimate. If you are happy to move forward, give us the green light and we can arrange a time for an archaeological surveyor to carry out an assessment on your site and assist you with gaining planning permission.

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