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Leader explains stance on archaeology

Councillor Alan Melton, Leader of Fenland District Council, has issued a detailed statement on archaeology and conservation in Fenland, following his recent speech at the Fenland Building Design Awards. Here is the full text.

ALAN MELTON PIC

Following my recent announcement related to archaeology and conservation at the Fenland Building Design Awards event, I feel it important to make the following statement:

The thrust of the overall announcement was to highlight that the Council wish to pursue a pro active approach to housing growth, economic development and infrastructure provision with a specific focus on sustainability and quality design.

Specific issues related to archaeology and conservation has raised significant debate both locally and nationally.

It should be stressed that there is NO intention for the Council to seek to break the law by going against relevant legislation. In fact such matters are covered in our draft Core Strategy under the heading 'Building Quality' and specifically a new emerging policy - 'Delivering and protecting high quality environments across the District' with appropriate reference to national policy PPS 5. This document is scheduled to go to the initial stage of public consultation in early August 2011.

It should be highlighted that the Council is mindful and supportive to protect Fenland's unique conservation and heritage assets. However, as with all specialist areas there is a requirement to be proportionate, reasonable and flexible in approach to help achieve the correct balance between meeting the 'specialist' area obligations and working with applicants and developers to achieve their aims.

To this end it should be stressed that the Council's planning and conservation team consists of professional and competent staff who are committed to positively transforming the District yet ensuring the Council does so in accordance with adopted local and national frameworks.

The Council has an excellent relationship with Cambridgeshire County Council Archaeology team whose professional staff operates in a pro active and collaborative way with both the Council and in turn developers to achieve such common objectives.

My previous announcement sought, and has certainly succeeded, in prompting debate to further enhance understanding and co-operation on these important subjects. Consequently, as a result the two authorities have already arranged to explore further awareness, efficiencies and delivery mechanisms. Developers and other stakeholders will also be engaged to inform improvements.

The key to this as recognised by the archaeological profession is early discussions and to minimise site disruption in order to take sites forward in the best interest of developers and the community. The strong interest from the Archaeology fraternity can only be positive in helping with this change.

By respecting our heritage and moving forward with innovation and quality developments we can all play our part to help to deliver growth and improve the quality of life within Fenland.

Councillor Alan Melton

Leader of the Council