Thursday, 10 November 2016

Historic Environment: President of ESAH Writes to Southend on Sea Borough Council

The Essex Society for Archaeology St History 

Mr. Andy Lewis, 
Deputy Chief Executive and Corporate Director for Place Services, 
Southend on Sea Borough Council, 
Civic Centre, Victoria Avenue, 
Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS2 6ER 

7th November 2016 

Dear Mr. Lewis, 

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. It has recently been brought to the Society's attention that Southend Borough Council may have no dedicated provision of historic environment advice to inform the planning process and no clear provision for maintaining and updating a Historic Environment Record (HER) to inform such advice. Southend has a rich and varied historic environment, with a wealth of archaeological remains, reflecting its strategic location on the north bank of the Thames estuary, the town has a diverse built heritage, including the cores of a number of historic villages, such as, for instance, Leigh and Prittlewell. In addition, despite its overall urban character Southend includes significant areas ancient woodland and historic landscapes. This complex historic environment requires considerable advice derived from specialist expertise to assess impacts of planning issues and ensure appropriate mitigation of any adverse effects. 

Since the historic environment is a finite non-renewable resource, such advice, founded on a properly maintained HER, is essential if much needed new development is to be sustainable. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) paragraph 9 states that sustainable development involves seeking improvements in the quality of the historic environment. In paragraph 169 it further states, that Local Planning Authorities should have up-to-date evidence about the historic environment which they should use, amongst other things, to predict the likelihood that currently unidentified heritage assets will be present, that paragraph concludes by stating that 'Local Authorities should either maintain or have access to a historic environment record.' The Society would be grateful to learn how Southend Borough Council deals with historic environment issues in the planning process as part of a '..positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment..' (NPPF paragraph 126). I look forward to receiving your detailed reply please. 

Thank you. 

Yours sincerely
Adrian Corder-Birch, 
Essex Society for Archaeology and History 

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