The future of the archaeological services market starts today

New report outlines recommendations for change and calls for sign-up from historic environment practitioners, developers and planners.

Wednesday 13 July saw the launch of a ground-breaking report, commissioned by the Southport Group, on the public benefits of development-led investigation of the historic environment. The event took place at the Building Centre in London and was attended by Minister for Heritage, John Penrose, who welcomed the publication of the report. Other speakers included Tony Travers, Director of LSE, who discussed the findings of economic analysis undertaken by LSE for the report.

The report provides crucial insight into the present state of the UK archaeological services market. Funded by English Heritage, it presents a vision for new ways of working under PPS5 principles and identifies a series of practical recommendations and actions needed in order to realise these benefits.

The publication in 2010 of PPS5 and a clear Government Vision statement on the value of the Historic Environment offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to maximise the benefits from planning-led archaeological investigation”, said Taryn Nixon, Managing Director MoLA and Southport Group Chair.

This report encourages and assists all those working in the historic environment to seize that opportunity by outlining existing challenges and providing realistic recommendations for the way forward

The Southport Report is the culmination of a one-year project and consultation over the principles of Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment, which recognises the value of the historic environment for understanding identity and place and for its contribution to quality of life and the social, economic and cultural life of the nation.

Many sector bodies have already endorsed the recommendations, and there have already been practical offers of support and funding to take them forward.

Peter Hinton, CIfA Chief Executive and Southport Group Secretary said

The past year has seen a monumental collaborative effort by all those keen to see greater benefits from planning-led archaeology, not least the development community. The publication of the report marks the end of the Southport Group so it is now up to organisations and the many skilled and committed practitioners in the sector raise the profile and standards of the profession by adopting the recommendations and products into their working methods”.

The group

This is a group of professionals within the industry who formed a working party to think creatively and radically about how we practise and how the PPS may best be implemented. The Group was made up of individuals (Mike Heyworth, Chris Gosden, Liz Peace, Stewart Bryant, Pete Hinton, Adrian Olivier, Duncan Brown, Adrian Tindall, Karen Bewick, Roger Thomas and Taryn Nixon, Jo Evans, Matthew Slocomb and Frank Kelsall), but between them the group can reach

  • ALGAO and the local authority and archaeology curatorial sector in England
  • the contracting and consulting sectors
  • university-based archaeologists
  • archives and museums
  • the property and development sector
  • the civic and amenity societies and groups, spatial advocacy groups

The group was formed at CIfA's 2010 conference, in Southport, which is where the group takes its name from.

The Project

The Group developed to propose ways in which we can improve practice, to make sure we deliver consistent excellence in the public benefit. The objectives of the project are

  • to facilitate the rapid improvement of practices developed under PPG 16 and the relevant elements of PPG 15 into those which are fit for purpose under PPS5
  • to stimulate a more collaborative approach within the sector
  • to focus the sector on understanding and enhancing cultural significance
  • to find ways to promote participative knowledge creation
  • to build the expectation of professionally accredited quality
  • to help the property sector create opportunities for better archaeology

The main deliverable was a report, containing recommendations for a framework of guidance and other products that would help realise the aspirations of PPS5. It contains the specification for the tools and rules we will need for the job – ie the revised advice and guidance (for planners, the archaeological sector and others) on how to realise public benefits from archaeology, new methods for assessing significance and sharing it, new ways for measuring our performance, and new structures for working across the sector and with the development industry.

For more information about the group and this project, please download the group's draft position paper (PDF file).