Planning Case Study 21

Farriers Way, Warboys, Cambridgeshire


Planning scenario(s)

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

Undesignated heritage assets with archaeological and historic interest

Type of application & broad category

Major, Residential

Local planning authority

Authority: Huntingdonshire District Council
References: 14/01887/OUT

Development proposal

Construction of up to 74 dwellings including access.

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

There were no known heritage assets recorded on the HER, although cropmarks were clearly visible on Google Earth.

Archaeological/planning processes

The adviser to the LPA’s comments on the proposal are summarised as follows:

The site is located on the southern edge of the historic settlement of Warboys. Archaeological investigations in advance of development to the west identified features of medieval date. Within the broader landscape, archaeological investigations have demonstrated that the clay landscape around Warboys was extensively settled and managed throughout the late prehistoric and Roman periods. It is likely that significant archaeological assets will survive in the area and that these would be severely damaged or destroyed by the proposed development.

A pre-determination desk-based assessment indicated ‘negligible/low potential for the presence of currently unknown buried archaeological remains’ on the development site.

Pre-determination evaluation was recommended by the archaeological adviser although this advice was not followed by the LPA and all works were undertaken post-permission. A pre-commencement planning condition to secure a programme of archaeological investigation was attached to the planning permission.

A geophysical survey revealed extensive settlement across the entire (4 ha) site.

Evaluation trenching identified a very well preserved, dense, and extensive Roman rural settlement comprising rectilinear enclosures aligned along a metalled trackway. Late Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon pottery was also present.

Outcomes: archaeological

The evaluation was successful in determining the extent, density and character of the archaeological remains on the site and a mitigation scheme was planned for a minimum of 22 weeks. The mitigation programme took 24 weeks in total, although this was also impacted by weather and phased soil movements. Excavation confirmed a very rich archaeological landscape, which resulted in considerable costs for the archaeological excavation.

The main archaeological remains were Roman, with some late Iron Age and later Saxon activity on site of the abandoned Roman settlement in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. Roman settlement of this wealth and density was previously unknown in the parish and adds significantly to knowledge of Roman Fen edge activity in the Cambridgeshire Fens. In addition, the continuity of activity from the late Iron Age, through the whole of the Roman period and into the early Saxon period is also very unusual.

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

As excavation has progressed the client has been able to move onto the site and commence development work. This has not impeded the archaeological investigation or the community/volunteer involvement, so it is an excellent example of effective working together by all parties.

The local community was involved in the excavation and Warboys Archaeology Project members were on site. The developer (Bellway Homes) has also supported the local archaeology group with equipment. They have now carried out a geophysical survey on the adjacent rugby pitch, west of the development site, where the Roman settlement continues. There are plans to carry out a community dig (with Oxford Archaeology support) in the future.

References and links/bibliography

  • CGMS 2014, Land south of Farriers Way, Warboys, Cambridgeshire, Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment. Unpublished report.
  • Archaeological Services WYAS 2017, Farrier’s Way, Warboys, Geophysical Survey. Unpublished report.
  • Oxford Archaeology East 2018, Farriers Way, Warboys, Archaeological Evaluation Report. Unpublished report, OAE No. 2218.