Archaeological desk-based assessment, building assessment and/or building recording and analysis may often be required by a local authority, in line with government guidance, as part of the planning process, particularly in relation to works affecting statutory listed buildings.
Archaeological input may be required at the pre-planning stage, to support and inform an application or at post-determination, as a condition of planning or listed building consent.
The starting point for the study of any house or building is the undertaking of a programme of archival research. This normally involves a visit to the national, county and local record offices to review historic archive collections including historic maps and plans, photographic collections, trade and street directories, census returns and electoral registers. Documentary sources can add to the understanding of the origin and development of a building, its history, use and occupation and can greatly inform the analysis of the building itself. Documentary research will normally be undertaken in conjunction with a programme of building assessment or detailed recording.
Building assessment may be required at a preliminary stage of a development project and will normally comprise a limited programme of documentary research combined with a rapid evaluation of a building on-site. The assessment will be undertaken to gain a general understanding of the significance of the building concerned, to identify any potential issues related to the proposed development and to ascertain whether any further stage of archaeological monitoring/recording may be required as the development progresses.
The study and analysis of the structure of a building, even down to its fixtures and fittings, may reveal invaluable evidence concerning its origin, history and development. The recording of such evidence by measured survey and photography is doubly important when building fabric is to be lost during the course of alterations. Detailed building recording projects are undertaken in accordance with a series of ‘levels’, graded from Level 1 (basic visual record) to Level 4 (comprehensive analytical record), established by English Heritage. The type and level of archaeological input will vary from project to project dependent upon the nature of proposed work and the status of the building affected. The results of building surveys and assessments are presented as fully illustrated interpretive reports, prepared in line with nationally accepted guidelines.
A photographic survey will routinely be undertaken as part of any building assessment or detailed recording exercise, or it may be required as a basic, stand alone record of a building where no further survey is deemed necessary. High resolution colour digital and/or monochrome print photography can be undertaken as required.