RESCUE was extremely concerned to read the comments recently made by Cllr. Alan Melton, the Leader of Fenland District Council. In a speech on the 21st June at the 4th Annual Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard/Fenland Council Building and Design Awards Final, Cllr Melton apparently sought to call time on the requirement for archaeological investagation at the pre-application stage of the planning process, and what he called the “stupid” practice of archaeological investigation of a site following evaluation. Archaeology, he stated, will no longer “…form part of the committee agenda” He also proposed a relaxation of the conservation rules, “…particularly around sustainability and listed buildings.”, and noted that he would be taking a keen interest in this. The full text of Cllr Melton’s speech can be found at http://www.cambstimes.co.uk/news/regulations_swept_aside_as_fenland_council_leader_urges_lets_get_building_again_full_speech_here_1_929638
RESCUE disagrees fundamentally with Cllr Melton and firmly supports the necessity of addressing archaeological concerns both prior to, and during, the planning and development process. Through PPG16, and now PPS5, signifcant archaeological information regarding the origins and development of human occupancy of these islands has been revealed and recovered. It is clear that in the current economic situation it is important to encourage development but this absolutely should not be at the expense of the fundamental principles of sustainability or of encouraging the kind of short-termism that will be regretted in the future. RESCUE opposes wholeheartedly the recommendations proposed by Cllr Melton and will be writing to him to seek clarification of his remarks and ask how he proposes his pronouncement should be implemented in the face of European, National and Local planning policy. We too shall be taking a “keen interest” in this unfolding debate.
Rescue’s full response can be found below.
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