The Essex Society for Archaeology & History
Mr. Gavin Barwell, M.P.,
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
Department for Communities and Local Government,
2 Marsham Street, LONDON SW1P 4DF
15th October 2016
Dear Mr. Barwell,
Sir Simon Burns has forwarded to the Essex Society for Archaeology and History a copy of your letter of 24th August regarding possible adverse impacts of the new Neighbourhood Planning Bill on historic environment provision. It is welcome and reassuring to read that it is not the Government's intention to curtail the use of planning conditions to ensure that necessary archaeological work is undertaken.
However, what is intended and what actually occurs are sometimes rather different things; great care will be needed in drafting the Bill to ensure that historic environment provisions are not impaired. The draft Bill confirms the intention to introduce new provisions which seek to limit the use of pre-commencement conditions, giving power to the Secretary of State to prohibit particular types of pre-commencement condition and changing the way in which conditions are attached to grants of planning permission, requiring them to be first agreed by developers
Such conditions are vitally important to ensure the sustainability of development proposals with respect to impact on archaeology. Since the Bill appears to leave room for archaeology, and wider heritage protections to be exempted from new provisions; we trust such exemptions will indeed be applied to historic environment issues.
In any case, the Bill's provisions will place additional pressures on Local Authority Historic Environment advisors. As you will be aware such advice is non-statutory and there has been a steady decline in its provision over the last few years. Accordingly we wonder what provision the Bill will make to ensure that Local Authorities have access to adequate specialist advice to ensure that necessary pre-commencement conditions are identified, and agreed with developers in a timely manner.
Essex Society for Archaeology and History
PATRON: THE LORD-LIEUTENANT OF ESSEX President: Adrian Corder-Birch D.L.
Registered Charity No. 213218