What’s going wrong with desk-based assessments?

After the success of our first workshop last autumn, we are taking the desk-based assessment workshop on tour. Workshops will be held this autumn in Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Manchester. Details and booking links are listed below.

For full workshop details, including learning outcomes, click here

Read the summary from our London workshop

Workshop information

The desk-based assessment (DBA) is a much-maligned beast. Despite being enshrined in planning guidance, there still seems to be confusion as to what one is and its purpose. Recent discussions with ALGAO highlighted several problems including submission of DBAs when they are not required and the frequent appearance of documents that do little more than reiterate information already available in the HER, with no meaningful assessment of significance, potential or impact. This led to the organisation of a workshop on DBAs at the CIfA AGM in October 2018. It was decided to repeat this workshop across the UK to ensure a wide range of feedback especially from those operating under different planning policies.

CIfA is currently undertaking a thorough review of its Standards and guidance, which includes consideration of where and why things might be going wrong. This suite of DBA workshops, which are aimed at anyone who commissions, writes or uses DBAs, will take an in-depth view of what the Standard requires and why. It will also provide the opportunity for some collaborative working as CIfA seeks to improve the guidance to help members achieve a better-quality product.


The workshop features speakers working across the UK and is aimed at archaeologists and historic environment practitioners who commission, write or approve DBAs.

The course is not designed to teach delegates with little or no previous experience how to write a DBA.


The workshops include a mix of presentations and group/open discussion. Presentations will be heard from CIfA, local planning archaeologists working throughout the UK, contractors and consultants to encompass a wide range of viewpoints regarding the role and perception of DBAs across the sector. This will be followed by discussion and group work focusing on the current Standards and Guidance.

Book your place

Cardiff: 13 September

Edinburgh: 15 October

Manchester: TBC November