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Monday, 8 August 2016

Environmental Planning Advice. Concern expressed by President of Essex Society for Archaeology and History to our local Members of Parliament

Adrian Corder-Birch, President of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History, has written to the following local Members of Parliament expressing concerns about Environmental Planning Advice.  We will publish any response received.
Sir David Ames MP
Mr John Baron MP
Ms Lyn Brown MP
Rt Hon Sir Simon Burns MP
Mr Douglas Carswell MP
Mr James Cleverly MP
Ms Stella Creasy MP
Mr John Crudas MP
Mr John Cryer MP
Ms Jacqie Doyle-Price MP
Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP
Rt Hon Mark Francois MP
Mr Mike Gape MP
Ms Rebecca Harris MP
Mr Robert Halfon MP
Sir Alan Haslehurst MP
Dame Margaret Hodge 
Mt Bernard Jenkin MP
Ms Eleanor Laing MP
Mr Stephen Metcalfe MP
Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
Rt Hon Sir Eric Pickles MP
Mr Will Quince MP 
Mr Andrew Rosindell MP
Mr Wes Streeting MP
Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP
Dame Angela Watkinson DBE MP
Mr John Whittingdale MP

Example letter
The Essex Society for Archaeology & History

Mr. Robert Halfon, M.P.,
House of Commons,

5th August 2016

Dear Mr. Halfon,

The Essex Society for Archaeology and History was founded in 1852 as Essex Archaeological Society. It is the oldest, largest and major society in Essex for those interested in the county's past.

England has a rich and varied historic environment, and that is especially true of Essex which has a wealth of archaeological remains, ancient woods and a distinctive historic landscape and settlement pattern, including many historic villages and towns. This complex historic environment is a finite non-renewable resource. Accordingly sustainable development requires clear advice derived from specialist expertise to assess impacts of planning applications and ensure appropriate mitigation of any adverse effects. The planning process is central to the effective management and conservation of the nation's historic environment. Since PPG 16 was issued in the early 1990s effective provision has been made in planning regulations to accommodate necessary archaeological investigations, mostly before the commencement of development and occasionally before granting of planning permission. These provisions have been preserved in all the changes to the planning process since then, and are clearly present in the current National Planning Policy Framework. This has greatly increased the effectiveness of archaeological work arising from the planning process, transforming our understanding of our country's history at local, regional and national level. The range and quality of the work carried out since 1990 reveals how inadequate archaeological provision was in the preceding decades. It should be noted that archaeological conditions are applied to such a small percentage of planning applications that they can have little adverse impact on provision of much needed infrastructure and housing development, yet their absence would have a crippling effect on effective archaeological investigation.

It appears that The Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill announced in the recent Queen's Speech may threaten the proper provision of archaeological investigation. Amongst the Bill's main elements are:
`Planning Conditions
• To ensure that pre-commencement planning conditions are only imposed by local planning authorities where they are absolutely necessary.
• Excessive pre-commencement planning conditions can slow down or stop the construction of homes after they have been given planning permission.
• The new legislation would tackle the overuse, and in some cases, misuse of certain planning conditions, and thereby ensure that development, including new housing, can get underway without unnecessary delay.'

These aims might well undermine the effective system of archaeological provision established over the last quarter century. There have been some recent comments from Government sources indicating that press suggestions that the Bill is intended to sweep away requirements that force developers to carry out archaeological work before starting housing projects, are incorrect. In addition Department for Communities and Local Government officers have apparently indicated that archaeology is not a target of the reforms on pre-commencement conditions. Whilst these comments are welcome and somewhat reassuring, the Society would like to know your views on these matters and would urge you to use your best endeavours to ensure that the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill does not damage the highly effective provision for archaeological investigation this country's planning regulations currently provide. I look forward to hearing from you with your views please. 

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Adrian Corder-Birch, D.L., President

resident: Adrian Corder-Birch D.L. • Rustlings • Howe Drive • Halstead • Essex C09 2QL • 
Registered Charity No. 213218

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