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Ifa Media release: GOVERNMENT STATEMENTS ON THE HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT FOR ENGLAND
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Yesterday government published three documents on the historic environment in England: a
statement of its vision and commitments, planning policy, and a planning practice guide.
IfA welcomes these publications. They are more robust statements of the value and social,
economic and cultural contribution of the historic environment than we have seen before at
this level, and much greater accord with IfA?s own position. In particular, the new Planning
Policy Statement 5 Planning for the historic environment is a significant improvement on its
predecessors, PPGs 15 and 16. For the first time it brings together approaches to the built
and buried elements of the historic environment, in line with IfA?s holistic approach to
professional practice.
It addresses a number of deficiencies in the earlier guidance, by clarifying the responsibilities
of local planning authorities
? to maintain or have access to a staffed Historic Environment Record to aid decision
making and to act as a public resource
? to make decisions about change to all heritage assets, whether or not formally
designated, based on applications supported by expert assessment of the potential
impact of the proposed development
? to require developers, through planning conditions or obligations, to publish the
results of expert investigations of historic buildings and sites to be destroyed by
development, and to deposit archives in appropriate and publicly accessible
repositories
Most importantly, the PPS sets out the need to take expert advice when assessing the
impact of development on the historic environment. The definition of ?archaeological interest?
as an interest in carrying out expert investigation?into the evidence a heritage asset may
hold of the past underlines the value of professionalism, the PPS and the practice guide
make it quite clear that planning authorities and developers have a responsibility to see that
work is done to professional standards by an organisation or individual with appropriate
expertise. This is welcome evidence for more active steps by government to comply with the
requirements of the European (Valletta) Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological
Heritage for archaeological work to by undertaken by accredited experts.
These improvements endorse IfA?s confidence that the consultation draft of the PPS would
be improved by constructive engagement.
The Planning practice guide is usefully improved by
? clearer advice on securing opportunities for public participation in archaeological
investigations
? greater acknowledgement of the value of working to professional standards, and of
the expertise of IfA members and Registered Organisations
But to assist planners, developers and historic environment practitioners, it remains in need
of improvement and the addition of clear explanations of the range and application of
professional standards and good practice guidance, including a fuller bibliography.

Professional debate on implementation
The steps that the historic environment sector and planners will need to take for effective
implementation of the PPS will be the subject of debate on 16 April 2010 at IfA?s Annual
Conference for Archaeologists (14-16 April) in Southport. For details of the programme,
timetable and booking see http://www.archaeologists.net/modules/ic...hp?page=18
For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he
Thomas Rainborough 1647
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