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BRITARCH  December 2003

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Subject:

archaeology, development taxes and reform of planning obligations

From:

Alex Hunt <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 3 Dec 2003 14:18:45 +0100

Content-Type:

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Recalling the discussion a while back on flat-rate development taxation options for archaeology on the Britarch list I thought it might be worth mentioning the government's current consultation (see http://www.odpm.gov.uk/pns//pnattach/20030231/1.doc) proposing reforms to the way in which planning obligations will work in England through augmenting these with a 'planning tariff' system.

For those who are not familiar with 'planning obligations' they are negotiated legal agreements which secure provision for certain needs/account for impacts arising out of development. This might be a road improvement or enhanced public transport provision associated with a development; provision of affordable housing; providing community facilities etc. Such obligations have also been used in relation to securing provision for archaeology, although, due to complexity in negotiation and attendent costs involved, really only for some of the larger scale and complex development proposals rather than 'run of the mill' small scale development (where planners tend to rely on planning conditions alone to secure environmental and archaeological mitigation,observance of design criteria and other restrictions or requirements etc). Their use for archaeological purposes in England is set out in Paragraphs 25, 26, 29 & 30 of PPG16 (see http://www.odpm.gov.uk/stellent/groups/odpm_planning
 /documents/page/odpm_plan_606901.hcsp)

The government is proposing replacing the current agreement approach with a new two-speed system under which developers would be free to enter into either negotiating planning obligations with Local Planning Authorities (as they currently do), or alternatively if they prefer adhering to paying out under a set 'planning tariff' system (precariously close to a development tax) with rates which would be decided locally and set out in the new breed of local development plan. The government rationale is to allow flexibility, speed where this is required, and openess and accountability.

The proposed reforms if put in place clearly have both potentials and pitfalls for archaeology in the planning system which deserve to be teased out. However there are potential subtleties in the proposed system (e.g. the idea of pooling contributions from a number of developments in some circumstances; the lack of clarity as to how this might interplay or even erode use of planning conditions) which make the impact for archaeology all the more difficult to assess and understand. So on the basis that I am not as intimately involved in these matters as I once was I cast this to the list to muse over!

The government closes their consultation on 8th January by the way...

regards

Alex
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