Archaeological remains should be regarded as a material consideration in the spatial planning process. Depending on the assessment of their importance, they may be required to be preserved physically or replaced by record, as part of a programme of mitigation. Such a programme may be the subject of an archaeological condition subject to which planning permission is granted.
The presumption should be that important archaeological remains should be preserved wherever possible.
The different stages of archaeological work, from initial, early consultation with specialist advice through assessment, evaluation and reporting, aim to identify and manage archaeological risk. Employing risk management techniques means that archaeological work can be integrated successfully with the development programme.
Developers should seek specialist advice at the earliest opportunity in order to plan a programme of archaeological risk management. Archaeological work can be time consuming and expensive and will include off-site works (post-excavation assessment, analysis, reporting and publication) as well as on-site work (assessment, evaluation, excavation, recording, etc). Research by the City of London Corporation indicates that for a major central London development with complex archaeological remains, total archaeological costs may comprise between one and three per cent of construction costs (Corporation of London, 2001). For other developments, the cost is usually less than one per cent.
It is important that the legal and planning constraints, financial impact, commercial and design implications and programming issues which may arise as a result of archaeological risks are fully understood at the outset of a development. A lack of early advice on issues such as foundation design, basement location and landscaping works may result in delays and difficulties gaining planning approval.