Historic Building Evaluation

Specification for Historic Building Evaluation

  1. Introduction and Background

    1. This specification, prepared by the Devon County Historic Environment Team (HET) sets out the scope of the works required to better understand the significance of a historic building that will be affected by proposed development. This work is usually undertaken in support of a planning application, but may also be required as a first stage of historic building recording undertaken through the application of a condition applied to a planning consent granted by the Planning Authority. The usual wording of such a condition is as follows: ““No development to which this permission/consent relates shall commence until an appropriate programme of historic building recording and analysis has been secured and implemented in accordance with a written scheme of investigation which has been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. The development shall be carried out at all times in strict accordance with the approved scheme, or such other details as may be subsequently agreed in writing by the District Planning Authority.” and may relate to historic buildings, both listed and non-listed.
    2. This work is required in accordance with paragraph 194 of the National Planning Policy Framework (2019) and the relevant Local Plan Policy on Planning and Heritage in support of a forthcoming planning application for alterations to, or demolition of all or part of the fabric of the extant building.
    3. The principal objective of the programme of works is to evaluate the historic building in order to determine the significance of the heritage asset affected by the development. Based on these results the requirement and scope of any mitigation – taking the form of either (i) alteration to the design proposals to minimise the impact of the development upon the historic fabric or (ii) by further historic building fabric recording undertaken as mitigation for the loss of the historic building fabric – can be determined and implemented.
  2. Written Scheme of Investigation

    1. This Specification sets out the scope of the works required to evaluate the nature of the historic fabric affected by the proposed development and will form the basis of the Written Scheme of Investigation to be prepared by the historic building consultant and approved by the HET and – if required – by the Planning Authority’s Conservation Officer prior to commencement of site work.
    2. The Written Scheme of Investigation must reference the collecting museum’s accession number and the OASIS (Online AccesS to the Index of archaeological investigationS) identification number.
  3. Programme of Works

    1. An examination will be made of the building in order to produce an illustrated, scaled, phased plan and elevations of the extant building and identify the original and later elements of the building, as well as any fixtures, fitting or features of special architectural interest.
    2. A detailed written description of the existing building will be made, including – if appropriate – the roof structure.
    3. While a full photographic record is not required, the report should contain a limited number of photographs showing the overall character and setting of the building(s), as well as evidence of phasing and any significant fixtures, fittings and architectural features that survive.  Photographic images will need to be appropriately archived with the Archaeology Data Service.
    4. The results of this work will be set out in an illustrated report.
    5. In many cases the results of this work will be submitted in support of the forthcoming planning application to enable the Planning Authority to reach an informed planning decision. It is therefore recommended that a draft report is submitted to the HET for comment prior to its formal submission to the Planning Authority.
    6. This initial evaluation should also identify and highlight any pre-modern historic fabric that has potential for containing palaeoenvironmental information, such as historic thatch and cob that may contain plant macrofossils that would be suitable for palaeoenvironmental assessment/analysis or for dendrochronological analysis.
    7. Existing architect’s plans may be utilised for the production of the phased drawings provided they are of appropriate accuracy and scale. Otherwise drawings should be produced by the archaeological consultant.
  4. Reporting

    1. The report shall be prepared collating the written, graphic, visible and recorded information outlined above. It is recommended that a draft report is submitted to the HET for comment prior to its formal submission to the Planning Authority. The report will contain sufficient detail to allow an understanding of the significance of the historic building and the impact of the proposed works upon it. The report will also inform as to the requirement and scope for appropriate further mitigation, either through appropriate design to minimise the impact upon the historic fabric or through further historic building recording undertaken in mitigation for the loss of historic fabric and the impact on the appearance and character of the historic building.
    2. The report should include, as a minimum:
      1. a location plan of the building showing its position in the landscape and in relation to other buildings on the site and in the immediate vicinity:
      2. phased plan of the extant building;
      3. a description of the building’s historic fabric as well as any surviving fixtures and fitting;
      4. a selection of images to illustrate any surviving fixtures and fitting, phasing of the building, as well as any historic fabric and architectural features;
      5. a consideration of the significance of the historic building with regard to its local, regional and national importance.
    3. A copy of the report will be submitted to the Planning Authority’s Conservation Officer.
    4. On completion of the report a digital copy shall be provided to the County Historic Environment Team – in a format to be agreed in advance with the HET – on the understanding that it will in future be made available to researchers via a web-based version of the Historic Environment Record.
    5. The archaeological consultant shall complete an online OASIS (Online AccesS to the Index of archaeological investigationS) form in respect of the historic building recording. This will include the uploading of a digital version of the report. The report will also include the OASIS ID number.
    6. Photographic images must be appropriately archived with the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) in order to preserve their long-term preservation.  Guidance on deposition of digital data can be found on the ADS website.
    7. If further historic building fabric recording is required the results of these evaluative investigations will be included in the subsequent final report.
  5. Personnel

    1. The recording work shall be carried out by a professional historic building specialist to be agreed with the HET. Staff must be suitably qualified and experienced for their project roles. All work should be carried out under the control of a member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), a member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists or by a specified person of equivalent standing and expertise. The Written Scheme of Investigation will contain details of key project staff and specialists who may contribute during the course of the works – excavation and post-excavation.
    2. Health and Safety matters, including site security, are matters for the consultant. However, adherence to all relevant regulations will be required.
    3. The work shall be carried out in accordance with CIfA Standard and Guidance for the archaeological investigation and recording of standing buildings or structures (1996), as amended (2008).
  6. Conflict with Statutorily Protected Species

    1. It is the archaeological contractor’s responsibility – in consultation with the applicant or agent – to ensure that the undertaking of the required archaeological works does not conflict with any biodiversity issues as covered by the NERC Act 2006. In particular, such conflicts may arise where archaeological investigations have the potential to have an impact upon protected species; in particular legislation associated with the protection of bats (see The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) (Amendment) Regulations 2007)
  7. Deposition of Archive and Finds

    1. Completion of the project is dependent on the compilation of an ordered and integrated project archive by the archaeological contractor in accordance with this Specification, the CIfA Standard and guidance for the creation, compilation, transfer and deposition of archaeological archives and with Management of Research Projects in the Historic Environment (MoRPHE). The archive must also be transferred for long-term curation to a recognised, accredited or trusted repository. An archive is defined as “all records and materials recovered during an archaeological project and identified for long term preservation, including artefacts, ecofacts and other environmental remains, waste products, scientific samples and also written and visual documentation in paper, film and digital form” (ARCHES).
    2. The Archaeology Data Service advises that “Good data management from the very beginning of a project can be key to its success and makes preserving data and preparing it for deposit with ADS much easier”.  The Written Scheme of Investigation must include reference to the archaeological contractor’s Data Management Plan.
    3. The collecting museums in Devon (Royal Albert Memorial Museum Exeter, Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon and Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery) require that the digital archive (consisting of born-digital and digital copies of relevant written and drawn data produced during fieldwork) must be transferred into the care of a Trusted Digital Repository rather than the museum.
    4. The archive will therefore consist of two elements:
      1. a copy of the report uploaded with the OASIS entry to the ADS, and
      2. digital copies of all photographs and associated metadata collected during the course of the building evaluation.
    5. This digital archive must be deposited with a Trusted Digital Repository and thus made publicly accessible, in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (2021). It is understood that the only suitable repository for digital archaeological archive is the Archaeology Data Service (ADS). Digital archive must be compiled in accordance with the standards and requirements of the ADS
    6. Guidance on selection for the archive is also provided:
    7. It is expected that a licence to copyright for documentary material, in both physical and digital forms, will be given to the receiving repository. This must be stated within the Written Scheme of Investigation, which should also identify the recipients of each element of the documentary archive.
    8. The Written Scheme of Investigation must set out a timetable for the deposition of the site archive. The HET would normally expect this to be completed within six months of completion of the fieldwork element of the project.
  8. Monitoring by the Historic Environment Team

    1. The archaeological consultant shall agree monitoring arrangements with the County Historic Environment Team and the District Conservation Officer and give two weeks’ notice, unless a shorter period is agreed with the HET, of commencement of the fieldwork. Details will be agreed of any monitoring points where decisions on options within the programme are to be made.

Revised: 28th November 2021