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What is an Historic Environment Desk Based Assessment?

An Historic Environment Desk-Based Assessment (DBA) is one of a suite of professional planning products that provides an early understanding of known and potential heritage assets. In many cases a DBA is requested when the local authority notifies that one is required as part of a planning application. It’s the start of a phased approach to managing archaeology and heritage on a site. This type of report can cover all forms of development, from a small building extension, to extensive housing  and transport schemes.

Cornwall HER

Desk-Based Assessments, more than points on a map

The content of a DBA  draws upon various available sources. This includes local-history background research, historic maps, information received during consultation with the local authority, and any information about the history of the site gathered from a site visit.

While not the only source, one of the principle collections used is often the local authority’s Historic Environment Record (HER). This maps the location and detail of every historic find, feature or monument known to them, including designated assets like Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments and Conservation Areas (more info on designation can be found here).

Your heritage consultant is your expert guide

Your consultant will apply their professional judgement to produce your DBA. Working in your best interests they will follow the codes of practice and guidance set out by Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA), meeting the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This will all be done with a keen eye on the commercial realities and project time scales in place.

At all points your consultant will be ready to advise and guide you through any questions you may have on the archaeology of a site, with regular and honest communication key in the preparation of your report; however, it is a two way street and the more we know about your plans, the more we can help with your works.

historic map

Forewarned is forearmed – archaeology needn’t disrupt your programme

When preparing for your development getting the results of a DBA at the earliest opportunity is highly beneficial – any archaeological or heritage features that are identified within the site boundary can then be properly investigated and mitigated early, letting you get on with your works. The risk is that where such works are implemented late in the day, they can delay your works, and add uncertainty to your project.

If you need an informal chat about your plans, or to understand a planning condition, please feel free to call the team at AB Heritage, an accredited Registered Organisation with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA).

For more information, please see our Services pages.

3 November 2016.


  • Map of the village of Weeks St Mary: Historic Environment, Cornwall Council
  • Historic Map

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