FAME and many of the leading archaeology bodies have written to the Prime Minister about upcoming changes to the planning system. You can download and read the full letter here:

2020-07-17 – CIfA CBA FAME ALGAO Rescue THA SAL letter to Boris Johnson

Dear Prime Minister,


We welcome the announcement that the government is committed to ensuring economic recovery through an ambitious programme of infrastructure spending and housebuilding. Development-led archaeology contributes to this goal by effective investigation, leading to greater understanding and conservation of heritage assets before and during development. There is a well-tested, staged system in the planning process designed to protect our historic environment, put it to work for public benefit, minimise costs and delays, and contribute to good place-making, local distinctiveness, and community identity. The UK is a world leader in archaeological research and development and our heritage management system is a model for others. Through their role in advising planning authorities and providing services to developers, archaeologists can enable well-balanced and informed planning decisions by assessing how heritage assets can be protected from needless harm, and how their investigation can add value to the development, to local people and the wider community. Where harm to the assets is necessary to deliver other public benefits, developers commission archaeological investigation and dissemination of findings, normally secured through planning conditions. The system works for the benefit of all. Over 30 years it has revolutionised our understanding of the past. It is not cited as a reason for major delay by developers [1], nor is it identified as a factor preventing build-out rates [2] [3].It removes from the public purse most of the cost (£258m in 2019 [4]) of safeguarding and unlocking a vital source for the history of our country. There are cases where existing policy has not been properly applied and in consequence the public has lost value that the proper application of the planning policy could have delivered. This has been manifested through unrecorded destruction of our history, whilst developers have suffered costs, delays and reputational damage. [5] Aspirations to ‘build back better’ must include safeguards that protect both the environment (in this case the historic environment) and a smooth development process.We are committed to ensuring that our work is proportionate, streamlined and as efficient as possible, but we need Government to leave us the tools we need to do our job in the nation’s recovery.Given the speed of reforms,please would you assure us that new approaches will maintain existing planning safeguards for the historic environment,protecting thousands of jobs in our industry and the local supply chain? More important, we ask whether you will ensure that our nation’s unique cultural heritage is conserved, investigated and interpreted so that everyone gains from the economic, social and environmental benefits it offers.

Yours faithfully,

1 Cornerstone Projects Ltd, Delays in Construction Projects(2017)

2 Letwin, O. Independent Review of Build Out:Final Report(2018)

3. Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO), Archaeology in Development Management(2019), p.16

4 State of the Archaeological Market Survey Report,2019(2020)

5 Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, Archaeology and Planning Case Studies,Vol. 1(2019) p.32