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Advice and Guidance

Our Historic Environment Team gives advice and guidance on the historic environment to a wide range of customers. These include planners and developers, landowners, national agencies and organisations, local societies, students and individual members of the public.

For more detailed information on how to engage with us, the archaeological process, and our Model Briefs, which set a minimum standard for typical archaeological projects carried out in the county of Staffordshire (not including Stoke-on-Trent or the Peak District National Park), please see SCC's County Archaeology Standard (1.84MB)

Historic Environment Planning Advice and Curatorial Services

In addition to providing formal archaeological advice to the county's Local Planning Authorities (excluding Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Peak District National Park Authority who have their own historic environment advisors), we also provide an Archaeological Advice Service for developers,  and curate archaeological works undertaken as part of the planning process (please see below for a background to planning advice and the historic environment), on behalf of the LPAs. We also provide advice on proposed land management schemes, such as felling applications and woodland grant schemes. Advice requests for such proposals should also be ordered through our Archaeological Advice Service. 

More details about our Archaeological Advice and Curatorial Services can be found below. All requests for Archaeological Advice and Curatorial services will need to be submitted and paid-for online via our 'Developer Online Advice / Data Request Form', scroll to the bottom of the page and select ‘Developer Advice Online Form’. Requests for Historic Environment Record (HER) searches should also be submitted online via this form (for more details see our HER webpage). 

Below is a summary of the planning and curatorial services we provide:

Archaeological Advice Service

Archaeological Advice (fee - £72.00 (£60.00 + VAT))

Our Archaeological Advice Service will identify any known designated and undesignated heritage assets (e.g. is the property or site scheduled, listed or within a conservation area; are there any other specific archaeological or historical associations) and assess archaeological potential (based on current available knowledge). Potential archaeological planning implications will also be identified. 

Advice will be issued summarising the historic environment interests for the site/property, any need for further assessment, recommendations in relation to planning and suggested wording for likely planning conditions. This advice can be submitted to the local planning authority at planning application stage to demonstrate that the applicant understands the historic environment interests associated with any proposed development. We aim to respond within 15 working days.

Please note that we strongly recommend that our advice is sought as early as possible in the process, preferably at the pre-application stage. This will allow applicants to provide appropriate evidence that is able to inform planning decisions, shape mitigation strategies, and help avoid costly delays.

Advice on Land Management Schemes (fee - £72 (£60 + VAT))

As outlined here proposers should contact local historic environment services ahead of submitting application for all afforestation, deforestation, forest quarry or forest road projects and woodland management plans. We will identify any potential archaeological/historic environment constraints with regards to your proposals, and advise on additional actions, surveys, or alternative solutions.

Curatorial Service

As archaeological advisors to the county’s Local Planning Authorities, we have a role in ensuring that archaeological work carried out as part of the planning process (either pre-determination or as a condition) is properly spec’d, carried out, and reported on. Like many similar services across the country, we seek to recover the costs we incur in ‘curating’ archaeological fieldwork carried out as part of the planning process or otherwise (such as work carried out under permitted development rights). Our Curatorial Service is usually charged at a single fee per application (large, multi-phase developments may incur charges for each phase. Likewise for sites requiring a further mitigation stage), and the cost depends on the size of the development (as outlined below). The fee covers everything that we need to do, including site monitoring visits, to ensure that the archaeological works have been carried out in line with the industry standard and guidelines, and to ensure that the relevant planning conditions (where applicable) can be satisfactorily discharged.

Our Curatorial Service will include all, or a combination of (where deemed necessary/appropriate) the following: Production of a brief/specification (if we determine that a site-specific Brief/Specification is required above and beyond the requirements outlined in our Model Briefs), Review and approval of any Written Schemes of Investigation (WSI), Liaison with local planning authorities, Liaison with archaeoloical consultants/archaeological contractors, Site monitoring visits, Review and approval of any submitted reports.

Fees are based on the size of the development as set out below:

Production of a specification or brief (£72.00 (£60.00 + VAT)):

Production of specification or brief setting out archaeological requirements of a planning condition.

Small Development (fee £248.40 (£207.00 + VAT)):

Developments up to 1ha in size and single historic building conversions/alteration works. Includes one site monitoring visit.

Medium Development (fee £423.60 (£353.00 + VAT)):

Developments between 1ha and 15ha and multiple historic building conversions/alteration works. Includes one site monitoring visit.

Large Development (£850.20 (£708.50 + VAT)):

Developments over 15ha. Includes two site monitoring visits.

Additional site visits / meetings (£211.80 (£176.50 + VAT)) :

Cost for additional site visits (over and above those included in the fees for small, medium and large developments) or attendance at Local Planning Authority meetings.

Infrastructure Projects

For infrastructure projects (such as road, rail or pipeline schemes) please contact the historic environment service (HER@staffordshire.gov.uk) to discuss requirements.

Our Planning Archaeological Advice and Curatorial services should be ordered and paid for via our online form.

Planning Advice Background

Our Archaeological Advice Service can provide advice and information relating to any potential archaeological impacts of planning applications, and our Curatorial Service ensures that any archaeological work undertaken as part of a planning condition or pre-determination, is carried out satisfactorily in line with the relevant standard and guidance.

The historic environment forms a material consideration in planning as laid out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which was issued by Government in March 2012 (updated December 2023). 

Section 16 of NPPF in particular lays out the policies for considering all aspects of the historic environment, including both designated and undesignated heritage assets*, within the planning decision making process.  Para. 200 in Section 16 states that in determining applications, local planning authorities should require an applicant to describe the significance of any heritage assets affected, including any contribution made by their setting. The level of detail should be proportionate to the assets’ importance and no more than is sufficient to understand the potential impact of the proposal on their significance. In order to meet this requirement applicants are often required to submit a Heritage Statement, whilst in the case of where a proposed development site includes, or has the potential to include, heritage assets with archaeological interest, local planning authorities should require developers to submit an appropriate desk-based assessment and, where necessary, a field evaluation.

A Heritage Statement will be required where development will impact upon designated heritage assets and their settings as well as locally listed buildings where relevant.  It is recommended that a statement of significance should be produced to inform the conversion of traditional historic farm buildings (see Historic England guidance on Farm Buildings and Traditional Farmsteads

They will also be required where development has the potential to impact upon known or potential archaeological sites (below and above ground) particularly where developments lie within historic settlement cores or are of sufficiently large-scale. In these latter instances, or where an Environmental Impact Assessment is required, the historic landscape character should also be considered to ensure that the local distinctiveness and cultural patterns is reflected or enhanced.

Applicants are advised to contact the Historic Environment Record for details regarding the location of heritage assets and for advice relating to both archaeology and historic character (landscape and urban).  Guidance on the historic environment in relation to certain settlements is discussed as part of the Staffordshire Extensive Urban Survey

(*NPPF (2012) defines heritage assets as “A building, monument, site, place, area or landscape identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions, because of its heritage interest.  Heritage asset includes designated heritage assets and assets identified by the local planning authority (including local listing)”.  Designated Heritage Assets are “A World Heritage Site, Scheduled Monument, Listed Building, Protected Wreck Site, Registered Park and Garden, Registered Battlefield or Conservation Area designated under the relevant legislation”). 

Stoke on Trent and Peak District National Park 

Our Historic Environment service does not provide planning advice relating to the Stoke on Trent Unitary Authority area, or on applications falling within the Peak District National Park Authority area.

Please see these pages for more details:

For more details about archaeology and planning policy please see the SCC Archaeology Standard. Historic England have also produced some useful guidance on Planning and Archaeology, whilst the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists have produced  a handy guide to archaeological works for construction companies and householders.   

Guidance on the Historic Built Environment

Particular care needs to be taken when repairing or maintaining historic structures.

Standard maintenance practices may be unsuitable for the preservation of historic fabric or protecting the special architectural or historic character, and alternative approaches may be required.

Certain planning consents may be required for building works, even those that would normally be considered routine maintenance or repair. New development within historic areas should also be planned to take into account their special character and appearance in terms of siting, materials and design. Historic structures can often provide a habitat for protected species, such as bats or greater crested newts, so advice should always be sought regarding the ecology of the area.

These guidance notes outline national conservation legislation, and the repair and design principles that commonly apply to works.

Detailed advice on repair and design principles that commonly apply to works to historic structures can be found in:

Advice on Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas and Scheduled Monuments can be found here.

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