Planning Case Study 1

Cutacre Open Cast, straddling Bolton, Wigan and Salford, Salford Road, Hulton, Greater Manchester


Planning scenario(s)

1 - Pre-determination assessment/evaluation identified significant new heritage assets - Pre-determination assessment/evaluation identified significant archaeology on the development site (i.e. the results created significant new knowledge), especially where none was previously known in the HER.
7 - Pre-commencement archaeological conditions were attached to a planning permission - Pre-commencement archaeological conditions were attached to a planning permission and were necessary in order to enable the development to be permitted.

Heritage assets affected

Non-designated heritage assets of archaeological and historic interest

Type of application & broad category

Minerals; mixed-use, major

Local planning authority

Authority: Bolton, Salford and Wigan Councils
References: APP/N4205/A/97/289386 and EIA – permission granted at appeal in 2001 90539/13

Development proposal

Large-scale mining operation requiring removal of a massive colliery waste mound together with winning coal from areas of previous conventional coal mining. To be followed by mixed used commercial development and public open space. Total area of application 314ha.

Archaeological information known about the site before the planning application was made, or before the development commenced, as appropriate

The HER was poorly represented for this area. This was enhanced by desk-based assessments carried out in the 1990s.

Archaeological/planning processes

The processes of assessment and evaluation for this very large and complex development took place over an extended time frame from 1991 until 2014 (details in OA North 2016, referenced below).

The first stages of archaeological work took place pre-application and comprised desk-based assessment and walkover survey in 1991, which was revised and updated in 1996. This indicated medieval and later potential; there was no indication of potential for prehistoric archaeological sites.

A programme of geophysical survey in selected areas in 2005 and 2006 was followed by trial trench evaluation of 14 sites in 2006. This identified prehistoric and medieval features alongside a range of mainly post-medieval farm sites. Three sites were then subject to excavation, also in 2006. These revealed a middle Bronze Age round house with associated 4 poster structure and a medieval iron smelting complex. The middle Bronze Age hut and 4 poster are the only ones known in Greater Manchester and very rare in the NW region.

A further programme of evaluation took place in 2014 in response to the 2013 planning application, although this did not lead to any further investigation.

Outcomes: archaeological

A programme of pre-application assessment for the initial 1997 application identified significant archaeological potential for the medieval and later periods which was confirmed by post-determination evaluation and excavation in 2005-6. The evaluation and excavations in 2006 also revealed significant and unexpected evidence of Bronze Age settlement of regional importance. This work was secured by pre-commencement conditions.

Other outcomes/outputs e.g. other public benefit such as public engagement, research and new/changed work practices

A monograph publication of the archaeological survey and investigation at Cutacre is in preparation. This will also place the former early farming landscape at Cutacre within its regional context through comparisons with another large-scale landscape redevelopment at Kingsway in Rochdale. There will also be a popular booklet in the GM Past Revealed Series and information panels on site.

References and links/bibliography

  • Oxford Archaeology North 2016, Cutacre, Bolton, Greater Manchester: Archaeological Analysis Report. Unpublished report, OA North Job No: L10766.