Presentations from “2020 Vision: a new era in British archaeology”

The FAME Open Meeting in York 2020 Vision: a new era in British archaeology proved an important landmark, not just for FAME but perhaps the future of development-led archaeology in this country. It was attended by over seventy delegates, of whom two-thirds were FAME members, with the remainder from ALGAO, English Heritage and other organisations. The speakers offered a wide variety of perspectives on how development-led archaeology might need to change over the next decade in response to the publication of PPS5 and likely local government cuts.

Speaker Summaries

PPS5 and the future of local government historic environment services

Stewart Bryant, Chair ALGAO (UK), Dave Barrett, Chair ALGAO (England)

The publication of PPS 5 has been a positive development amongst the general gloom within local government. It provides much needed policy support for ALGAO members in the face of forthcoming reductions in services and offers a rare opportunity to rethink the process and address longstanding issues of quality and consistency. This paper will look at current initiatives to help support local government services, and provide some thoughts on how the sector can improve the quality of planning outcomes especially in the areas of research, post-excavation, publication and public engagement.

Changes to policy & legislation affecting cultural heritage: the view from Scotland

Alan Leslie, GUARD

This paper describes proposed changes to cultural heritage legislation in Scotland, including The Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010, SHEP (the Scottish Historic Environment Policy) and the new Scottish planning policy document. Their objectives are to simplify and align existing legislation, strengthen the protection of designated sites, streamline the process of designation and consent, and make it both more responsive and transparent. The paper will review to what extent these objectives are being met, and will also summarise the current state of the archaeological marketplace in Scotland.

PPS5: a consultant’s and developers’ perspective

Rob Bourn, Director of Archaeology, CgMs Consulting

It is no secret that the emergence of PPS5, coinciding with the tail end of the severest recession in living memory, has not led to the development world welcoming it with open arms. Many developers are concerned that its implementation will lead to additional hurdles and costs that deliver no perceived value to them. This is in part a fear of the new, but is not without foundation, as it has been noted that PPS5 has been seen as a PPG16+ document, in which automatic pre-determination evaluation utilising ever more techniques becomes the order of the day. If this becomes so, untold damage could be done to the archaeological profession as our standing becomes undermined by perceived and real excessive demands. To ensure that this does not happen, we need to take this opportunity to take a creative partnership approach to archaeological heritage assets in the planning system that carries the ultimate paymasters along rather than alienating them.

Planning guidance for better archaeology: new developments

Pete Hinton, Chief Executive, Institute for Archaeologists

This paper reflects on how practitioners in the sector influenced or failed to influence the drafting of PPS5 and practice guide, and what lessons this may have for implementing reforms. It reviews the applicability of a widely used definition of market failure to archaeological contracting, and looks at how the PPS5 could change all that. Changes to old methods and products are needed to satisfy the English planning process; bigger changes to the way we do archaeology could bring vastly improved benefits to public and archaeologists alike. As the title suggests, implementing planning guidance for archaeology and new developments allows us to plan guidance on implementing new developments in archaeology.

PPS5: providing opportunities for more thoughtful archaeology and increased public benefit

Mike Heyworth, Director, Council for British Archaeology

The archaeological sector in England needs to take maximum advantage of the opportunities provided within the new PPS to emphasise the public benefit of work undertaken through the planning process. This can be achieved in a number of ways but I will focus on two areas. Firstly, how we can use the concepts of ‘significance’ and ‘proportionality’ to enliven the intellectual engagement of all staff working in planning-led archaeology. And secondly, how we can enhance public engagement with archaeological work and contribute more effectively to the enhancement of knowledge and more informed public understanding of the value of the historic environment.

Rethinking development-led archaeology

Roger M Thomas, Head of Urban Archaeology, English Heritage

PPS 5 signals a major shift of emphasis in development-led archaeological work – from making records (‘preservation by record’) to advancing understanding. Translating this philosophical change into practice will undoubtedly be challenging, but is essential. I will consider four specific and closely intertwined issues: the need to devote more time and effort to Written Schemes of Investigation; the potential role of universities in development-led archaeology; the pressing need for synthesis; and the need to gain a much better overall understanding of the quantity, distribution, character and significance of archaeological remains across the landscape. I believe that these issues are central to the successful implementation of PPS 5.

All together now? Making the guidance work in practice

Adrian Tindall, Chief Executive, FAME

This paper will summarise some of the recurrent themes of the day – promoting public participation, re-engaging with research, developing essential skills and, in the face of major cuts in local services, moving beyond mere process towards the ultimate goal of enhanced knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the historic environment. It will touch on some themes of particular concern to FAME members – the current state of the archaeological market and the impact of competitive tendering – and introduce an important new initiative to encourage all those in the sector to rethink archaeological practice under the new guidance.

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