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IfA responds formally to the draft National Planning Policy Framework for England

The Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) has today submitted its formal response to Government’s consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework for England. The Framework is intended to replace all the existing Planning Policy Guidance and Statements, including PPS5 Planning for the Historic Environment (March 2010).

Tim Howard, IfA Policy Advisor, said

‘We have a number of serious concerns about the current wording of the draft, which we think would result in a weakening of protection for the historic environment, and could lead to sites and buildings of archaeological interest being destroyed without adequate investigation, analysis and dissemination. Improvements we are seeking include

  • greater recognition of the positive role played by the historic environment and the public benefits that it brings
  • strong policies placing the management and protection of the historic environment at the heart of ‘sustainable development’ rather than subordinate to it
  • clearer policies, in particular, dealing with neighbourhood planning and with undesignated heritage assets and minor harm to designated assets
  • greater clarity as to the need for expert advice and the role of accredited experts acting in accordance with professional standards’

Gerry Wait, Honorary Chair of IfA, stressed the concern that is felt by many in the archaeological profession about the treatment of undesignated heritage assets in the draft Framework

‘The National Planning Policy Framework is a very important document for archaeologists, not least because it provides a means to manage and protect the undesignated environment in the absence of legislative provision. We must ensure that the Framework’s policies in relation to undesignated heritage assets are fit for purpose.’

During the run-up to the launch of the draft ministers repeatedly offered assurances that the NPPF was not intended to weaken protection. At the launch of the Southport Group report in July, Tourism and Heritage Minister John Penrose said that any deficiencies in the published draft that might lessen protection of the historic environment would be the result of misunderstandings, and would be put right – ‘and you can hold me to that!’

Peter Hinton, IfA Chief Executive, said

‘IfA and colleagues from The Archaeology Forum have welcomed the opportunity to make contributions to the draft. We are pleased that ministers, while committed to promoting growth through development, have felt able to offer such strong reassurances about the historic environment and about its study through archaeology. We have had a good working relationship with Government so far, and we are confident that this will continue during the remainder of the consultation period as we present our concerns and proposed solutions to ministers and officials.’

The full text of IfA’s response can be downloaded here

For more details please contact IfA’s Policy Advisor, Tim Howard at tim.howard@archaeologists.net.

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