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Archaeology in Surrey: Mitigate for Historic Remains

Unidentified archaeological remains on a development site can pose a range of problems to a project. Prior to finding issues on a greenfield site in Surrey, it would be advisable to reach out to us for an archaeology survey.

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Surrey Nature and Countryside

With cleaner air, a higher number of green spaces and more value for money in land and property purchases, Surrey is a popular location. It is recognised as a predominantly rural part of the country, classed as the most wooded county in all of Great Britain and possessing a green belt that surrounds around 70% of Surrey.

Planning projects on greenfield land and green belt land in Surrey has been permitted by the local council, showing encouraging signs to developers who want to stage a development on an untouched piece of land. Brownfield sites are also available, but it is often desirable to build on land with no existing infrastructure.

Even though greenfield land does hold the benefit of not having buildings or other structures present, it doesn’t necessarily come without obstacles. The lack of past intervention does mean that no building has taken place, but it also means that the nature of the site is unknown. As such, historic remains may be present visibly on the site or hidden underground, and the developer would need to be aware of this prior to breaking ground.

Archaeological Consideration from the Local Authorities

As an effective measure to show consideration to archaeology in the county, the Surrey County Council website has a page dedicated to archaeology. Within it, a section on the Surrey County Archaeological Unit explains how licensed archaeologists benefit the local planning authority, planning policies that relate to archaeology, and individual applications for planning permission.

Offering assistance to the local council, developers and land owners, the Surrey County Archaeological Unit provides a number of services. Primarily, archaeologists within the unit advise Surrey County Council with planning applications put forward by developers staging projects on pieces of land that could potentially interfere with historic remains.

It is to be expected that the local planning authority would need the expertise and insight from a trusted source, but from the perspective of developers, the same level of attention to detail is needed. In the case of a developer hoping to achieve planning consent, however, the suitable way forward would involve booking an archaeology survey on the development site.

Surveys on Untouched Land

Assessments on development sites with potential archaeological implications such as listed historic sites and greenfield sites are broken down into two sections. The first involves a set of desk-based assessments to retrieve information about the site in relation to registered historic importance and known archaeological remains. The second involves a physical inspection of the site, including a surface survey of visible areas on the site and a geophysical survey of all hidden, underground areas.

A ground penetrating radar (GPR) device will be used as the basis for the geophysical survey, sending radio waves into the ground, and measuring distances travelled between leaving and returning back to the device. Distances will be shorter any time the radio waves come into contact with an object or surface, indicating the presence of historic remains. The archaeological consultant then may decide to excavate if the desk-based assessment hasn’t given a reason for the reading.

Additionally, the archaeological survey may include watching briefs, walkovers, site discovery and aerial photography into the assessment, or pay consideration to contours, earthworks, building survey results and proximity to the National Grid. After the site visit, an archaeology report featuring information from the survey will be created to inform both the developer and the local planning authority. The suggested next steps will then demonstrate a way forward for the planning project to the planning officer, supporting the application for a planning condition.

Reach Out to Arbtech’s Archaeologists

In any development held on a listed historic site or a plot of undeveloped land, it would be advisable for the developer to reach out to an archaeological surveyor for an archaeology survey. As a way of offering our services to all clients, Arbtech has experts based all over the country, allowing for archaeological assessments in Surrey and almost any other location.

For help on your development site from one of our trained, qualified and licensed archaeological consultants, get in touch today online or over the phone. You can then receive a free quote based on the details of your site and project, and if you are happy with it, let us know, and we can then decide on an appropriate date to attend your site for an archaeology survey.

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