The IfA debate is set up as a Question Time style panel discussion and debate. This years debate looks into the question of Local Planning Authorities and the provision of archaeological advice.
Archaeologists represent a profession sitting on a boundary between the historic environment and the developer. Whether recording archaeological remains in foundation trenches, surveying standing structures prior to being demolished, or advising on planning applications, archaeologists are often in direct consultation with the developer – a relationship which is only as strong as the planning system which maintains it. The conference theme centres on partnership. The partnership between the local authority archaeological adviser, the developer and the commercial archaeologist - and indeed our profession - relies on adequate provision within local authorities. Within the current economic climate the level of protection afforded to the historic environment is already challenged. Local Planning Authorities are facing cuts to budgets, with their archaeological advisors facing an uncertain future. At worst services are being closed leaving no provision; elsewhere they are stretched to breaking point. It is within this climate that the opening debate at the Oxford IfA conference asks the question: what is the future for Local Planning Authorities and archaeology?