Most historic buildings are the product of a series of additions and subtractions. This process provides archaeologists with physical evidence of changes in technology, fashion and social relations. Change must continue if historic buildings are to have a future; equally, listed buildings form a precious and limited resource, and it is right that proposals for change should be considered in a careful and informed way. It is particularly desirable to safeguard those aspects of a building which make it special.
Taking an archaeological approach to a building can save money and time. A full understanding of its structural development and its surroundings can inform repair, indicate where flexibility lies for more radical alteration, and provide an essential tool for future management.
Evaluation and recording of buildings
The need for understanding the importance of the archaeology of buildings and sites is set out in government policy on planning and the historic environment (National Planning Framework) and explained in the Planning Practice Guide, prepared by English Heritage.
The National Planning Framework sets out the requirement for assessment of the impact of proposals on the significance of heritage assets such as listed buildings, before applications are determined. Such assessments are usually rapid and relatively inexpensive. Assessments are most useful at the earliest stages of formulating your proposal. They can help to avoid time-consuming and possibly costly alterations at later stages and should indicate the limits of alteration which would be appropriate. The local county or district archaeologist should be able to advise on the scope of such an assessment and on appropriately qualified people to carry it out.
Where a proposal has been granted consent by the local authority, but entails loss of historic fabric or there is a likelihood that hidden features will be revealed, applicants may be asked to make provision for recording.
For further information on our Built Heritage services please contact Rupert Austin.