Initial Site Heritage Appraisals

Forewarned is forearmed

When it comes to making a purchase of land for development, there can never be ‘too much detail’ to aid decision making. An Initial Site Heritage Appraisal can add to that knowledge.

Important detail, often overlooked, comes from the assessment of risks associated with archaeology on site, or the likely development impacts to surrounding heritage assets. And when most people in the UK live within a few miles of a recognised heritage asset, that may be a consideration for potential project costs.

Two clients recently approached AB Heritage to help with parcels of land they wished to develop. The first was a green field (previously agricultural) site in Somerset where the proposals were to create a mixed-use development of residential and commercial buildings. The second, completely different, was in London; an enclosed built-over site much of which was car parking with commercial buildings and an incinerator plant.

The Benefits of an early ISHA

Greenfield and brownfield sites can both present hidden heritage constraints. So, an Initial Site Heritage Appraisal (ISHA) was engaged for each. The benefits of early ISHAs are that clients can better understand the historic character of the proposed site, to deliver more targeted heritage works and inform future designs; offering cost savings and supporting the planning application process.

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Greenfield site with strong heritage characteristics

AB Heritage Consultants undertook an ISHA in Somerset on 2.6 hectares of agricultural land. The site was partially located within a conservation area, was an area of high archaeological potential, and was located close to listed buildings.  Our clients were seeking initial heritage / archaeology input into their pre-application enquiry.  

Included in the site and a further 250sqm search area, our consultants identified 25 heritage assets together with evidence of Bronze Age to Post Medieval activity. 

On examination of these features, the ISHA concluded the overall cultural heritage project risk was Medium/Low - such that it was unlikely to affect asset value but may constrain design options, and may affect project cost and the works programme. A combined Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment with Heritage Statement was recommended as an appropriate course of action should the site progress.

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Proportionate approach to monitor heritage potential on a brownfield site

In London, Clients were looking to progress a residential development on a commercial/industrial site. The Initial Site Heritage Appraisal was to feed into early feasibility studies. The site covered 3.1 hectares and within this plus a further 500sqm study area, consultants found 2 archaeological and 3 heritage constraints that could be impacted by development proposals.

However, the site’s more modern developments may have already reduced the residual heritage asset values, so the ISHA recommended that where the opportunity arose, archaeological monitoring of boreholes or window samples should take place to allow for the potential for archaeological deposits to be identified and recorded. A Heritage Statement and Statement of Significance could aid the later design stages of the project should it progress.

Concise and clear risk assessments

A professional ISHA from AB Heritage presents an early understanding of known cultural heritage assets within and around a site, to gain an understanding of potential constraints associated with future development. It will include:

  • An assessment of the information from multiple online resources as appropriate
  • Site location visit
  • Review and assessment of heritage assets presented in tabulated risk assessment form
  • Suggestions for most likely further heritage works should development proceed

All works undertaken by AB Heritage consultants comply with Chartered Institute for Archaeologists guidelines for best practice.

Call our team on 03333 440 206, or email info@abheritage.co.uk to discuss your site appraisal.