HE1 Archaeological Remains and their Settings

Closeddate_range16 Oct, 2019, 9:30am - 11 Dec, 2019, 5:00pm

Policy HE1 Archaeological Remains and their Settings

The Preservation of Archaeological Remains of Regional Importance and their Settings

There is a presumption in favour of the physical preservation in situ of archaeological remains of regional importance and their settings. These comprise Areas of Significant Archaeological Interest, monuments in State Care, scheduled monuments and other sites and monuments that would merit scheduling. Development which would adversely affect such sites of regional importance or the integrity of their settings will not be permitted unless there are exceptional circumstances.

A development proposal which would adversely affect the integrity of these assets and their settings will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances where it is determined to be of overriding regional importance and there are no alternative solutions.

The Protection of Archaeological Remains of Local Importance and their Settings

Development proposals which would adversely affect locally important archaeological sites or monuments or their settings will only be permitted where it is clearly demonstrated that the need for the proposed development outweighs the value of the remains and/or their settings.

Archaeological Assessment and Evaluation

Council shall seek all necessary information from applicants particularly in cases where the impact of a development proposal on archaeological remains is unclear, or the relative significance of such remains is uncertain. Should an applicant fail to provide a suitable assessment or evaluation on request, Council shall adopt a precautionary approach and refuse planning permission.

Archaeological Mitigation

In exceptional circumstances where planning permission is granted for development which will affect sites known or likely to contain archaeological remains. Conditions will be attached to ensure that appropriate measures are in place for the identification and mitigation of the archaeological impacts of the development, including where appropriate the completion of a licensed excavation53, recording examination and archiving of remains before development commences.

Justification and Amplification

Mid and East Antrim has a rich archaeological heritage which comprises of both above and below ground remains, and standing structures. Archaeological remains are a limited, finite and non-renewable resource, often highly fragile and vulnerable to damage or destruction through insensitive development. Protecting sites and monuments and their settings is therefore the means of maximising survival of information about our past.

Development proposals impacting on archaeological remains and their settings will be assessed on the individual merits of each case, taking into account the intrinsic importance of the archaeological remains in question, their potential use for amenity, tourism and education purposes and weighing these against other factors, including the need for and the benefits of the proposed development.

The Preservation of Archaeological Remains of Regional Importance and their Settings

State Care and scheduled monuments and Areas of Significant Archaeological Significance (ASAIs) together represent those archaeological assets which are of the greatest importance. Development that would adversely impact upon archaeological remains of regional importance, or the integrity of their settings will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances, where there is no practical alternative site and where there is a regionally significant overriding need for development. Not all important archaeological remains meriting preservation are yet scheduled. Accordingly, in assessing development proposals affecting sites which would merit scheduling Council will proceed as for State Care and scheduled monuments and only permit development in exceptional circumstances.

Monuments in State Care are protected by legislation54 and managed as a public asset. In assessing proposals for development in the vicinity of these monuments particular attention will be given to the impact of the proposal on:

  • the critical views of, and from the site or monument;
  • the access and public approaches to the site or monument; and
  • the understanding and enjoyment of the site or monument by visitors.

Where a planning application is submitted which involves works affecting a scheduled monument the applicant is advised to submit an application for Scheduled Monument Consent to Department for Communities (DfC) – Historic Environment Division (HED). As part of any related planning application written evidence must be provided to confirm that it has been formally submitted. Confirmation that Scheduled Monument Consent has been granted may also be required prior to our final determination of the related planning application.

The only ASAI in Mid and East Antrim is designated at Knockdhu, an upland area within the Antrim Coast and Glens AONB (refer to District Proposals Maps). This unique historic upland landscape contains a wide array of prehistoric and historic archaeological sites and monuments. The landscape of the ASAI is highly vulnerable to insensitive change. In particular, the erection of masts, pylons, wind turbines and associated infrastructure, or other large-scale development including large agricultural buildings or quarrying and mining activities are likely to adversely impact on the distinctive landscape character and the historic environment assets, including the archaeological sites and monuments. Accordingly, this regionally significant archaeological site is protected under this policy and through other LDP strategic designations and associated policies.55

The Protection of Archaeological Remains of Local Importance and their Settings

While the vast majority of archaeological sites and monuments in Northern Ireland are not scheduled, they are all capable of providing evidence about our past. Many are archaeologically important in the local context or valued by the community and therefore require safeguarding through the planning process. In assessing the local significance of archaeological sites and monuments, account will be taken of the following indicators:

  • Appearance: distinctive features in the landscape/townscape or local landmarks.
  • Quality: well-preserved or extensive buried remains.
  • Folklore/historical interest: association with a person or event in local tradition or legend.
  • Group value: one of a number of locally important sites.
  • Rarity: a locally rare example.

This will enable a balanced judgment to be reached on a case by case basis.

In cases where development proposals affect archaeological sites and monuments or their settings which are not of regional or local importance regard will be given to the desirability of preserving such remains and their settings.

Archaeological Assessment and Evaluation

Prospective developers need to take into account archaeological considerations from the outset. The needs of archaeology and development can often be reconciled, and potential conflict avoided or much reduced, if developers discuss their proposals with Council at an early stage. Flexibility is much more difficult and expensive to achieve once detailed designs have been drawn up and finance arranged.

It is therefore in the developers own interests to establish whether a site is known or likely to contain archaeological remains as part of their assessment of its development potential prior to submitting a planning application. The first step will be to consult the Northern Ireland Monuments and Buildings Record which contains database information on all known archaeological sites and monuments. Informal discussions with HED at this time will help raise awareness of the archaeological sensitivity of a site. In certain cases, following submission of a planning application the Council may request further information in the form of an archaeological assessment or an archaeological evaluation.

Archaeological Evaluations help to define the importance, character and extent of the archaeological remains that may exist in the area of a proposed development, and thus indicate the weight which should be attached to their preservation. They may also provide information useful for identifying potential options for minimising or avoiding damage.

Areas of Archaeological Potential (AAP) will be highlighted, for the benefit of prospective developers in the Local Policies Plan. These are areas within certain settlements, where on the basis of current knowledge, it is likely that archaeological remains will be encountered in the course of continuing development and change.

Archaeological Mitigation

In some circumstances it will be possible to permit development proposals which affect archaeological remains to proceed, provided appropriate archaeological mitigation measures are in place which preserve the remains in the final development or ensure excavation and recording prior to destruction. A mitigation measure may for example require design alterations to a development scheme to avoid disturbing the remains or to minimise the potential damage. Excavation and recording of remains is regarded as a second best option to physical preservation. There will however be occasions, particularly where archaeological remains of lesser importance are involved, when the Council may decide that the significance of the remains is not sufficient when weighed against all other material considerations, to justify their physical preservation in situ, and that the development should proceed. In such cases developers will be required to prepare and carry out a programme of archaeological works using professional archaeologists and working to a brief prepared by the Historic Environment Division.

  • 53 -Archaeological excavations may only be carried out under the provision of a licence granted by the Department under the provisions of the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (NI) Order 1995.
  • 54 - State Care and Scheduled Monuments are protected under the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.
  • 55 - Other LDP Strategic Designations – Area of Constraint on Mineral Development and Area of Constraint on High Structures

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