Kings Head, Thetford
Developments can sometimes require both below ground and built heritage assessments.
Proposals that bring together elements of new build within a redevelopment of a Listed Building always require thorough assessment of below ground as well as built heritage to meet planning requirements. Our combined Heritage and Archaeology Desk Based Assessment can prove cost effective and save time.
AB Heritage was commissioned to undertake such an assessment at the Kings Head in Thetford. The challenge for our client was to sensitively deliver their mixed-used scheme within the Listed complex of the old coaching inn and its outbuildings, which were located within the Thetford Conservation Area and further protected under local policies as they lay within the ‘Thetford Area of Main Archaeological Interest’.
This combined report was to help the local planning authority understand the impact of the proposals on the built heritage, the historic setting, and to any surviving archaeological resource by describing and assessing the historical development of the application site and its immediate area. Being engaged early by our client meant that AB Heritage was also able to advise on cost effective mitigation options for both below ground and scheme designs where appropriate.
The Local Planning Authority’s policy was to only allow conversion of buildings of architectural or historic merit for economic or residential purposes in locations that would otherwise be unacceptable, where this would ensure the retention of the historic building. In the case of the Kings Head, some of the Listed outbuildings were in poor state of repair and had become structurally unstable. Some later unsympathetic alterations had been poorly maintained and were also a cause of damage to the historic structure and features.
The site visit was integral as it demonstrated that there was limited survival of visible historic and architectural elements within The Kings Head itself, although these did not necessarily relate to the original phase of the building. The site visit also confirmed the semi-derelict nature of the former stables.
Assessments and Recommendations
Although it was considered that the proposals would cause a minor adverse impact to the building and its historic setting, the assessment was that any resulting harm would be offset by the public benefit of the continued viability of the locally important building and the restoration of the derelict stable block.
Research undertaken identified archaeological remains of Roman, Saxon and Medieval period settlement have been recorded during excavations in proximity to the site. Therefore, there was a high potential for the survival of regionally important evidence of occupation/settlement, ritual or industrial activity, that could contribute to a wider understanding of the development of Thetford throughout the prehistoric and historic periods. within the confines of the coaching inn complex. AB Heritage consultants therefore recommended that a small-scale archaeological evaluation should be carried out prior to any construction work, which could take the form of a single trench in the location of the new dwelling to better understand the nature, condition and importance of any archaeological remains present.