Response submitted to Core Strategy Proposed Changes, Bath and NE Somerset Council

uk/corestrategy Change SPC88 08/05/2013 Rescue - The British Archaeological Trust is a non-political organisation dedicated to supporting archaeology and archaeologists in Britain and abroad. We do not receive any state support and are entirely dependent on the contributions of our members to support our work. We believe that change SPC88 to the Core Strategy for Bath and NorthEast Somerset will have an unacceptably negative impact on both the western Wansdyke Scheduled Ancient Monument and Bath World Heritage Site. Western Wansdyke forms part of a series of defensive, ditched and banked earthworks running from Maes Knoll in Somerset to Savernake Forest in Wiltshire. The line of the western Wandsyke is relatively clear throughout its length until it reaches the eastern terminus where it reaches the ridge south of Bath and disappears under the Cross Keys pub. Its route beyond there is unclear, and difficult to trace due to both natural topography and historical activities (e.g. Fullers Earth digging), therefore this easternmost part of the route is topographically important, as the last part that can be clearly seen and surveyed. Recent research into this monument has suggested that it may have its origins in the Middle Saxon period and therefore comparable with Offa's dyke, but such research is in its infancy and there is, as yet, no consensus on its date or the appropriate methodologies to study or understand it. The change to the core strategy in this area will destroy the open landscape context of the Wansdyke, which has already been lost immediately to the west of the proposed development area, and the construction of the new road scheme will risk causing physical damage to the monument itself. Such monuments are vital to our understanding of our development as a nation from individual kingdoms, and defining and understanding the termini of these linear

monuments, is often key to interpreting the boundaries reflected by them. The loss of any part of this highly significant monument is unacceptable. Under the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, scheduled monuments are protected from destruction or disturbance and the impact on the setting of a Scheduled Monument by development is also a material consideration in the planning system. Any development in this area will have a serious impact on the landscape setting of the site even if full survey and excavation takes place as part of it (as it most certainly should under the provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework, the relevant planning guidance document). We believe that the current proposals to a change to the core strategy to include this area, conflict with the protection afforded to the monument by the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Monuments Act, and contravene the UK's commitments to the protection of the historic environment set out within the Valletta Convention (1992). The proposed development area also lies adjacent to a conservation area and an UNESCO World Heritage Site, both designations which afford protection to the adjacent built environment. World Heritage Sites are considered to be heritage assets of the highest significance (National Planning Policy Framework 132ff) and, as the UK is a state party to the World Heritage Convention, are recognised in International law. There are two examples of Case Law (Bath Society v. Secretary of State [1991] 2 P.L.R.51 and Coal Contractors Ltd v. Secretary of State [1995] J.P.L. 421) whereby the impact on a World Heritage Site has been deemed to be the most significant material consideration. Both cases were successfully found in favour of the WHS; and it is notable that the Coal Contractors v. Secretary of State related to the visual impact of opencast mining for only a short period (unlike permanently as here) within the setting of the WHS (i.e. outside its boundary, as in this case). The loss of the open land and the impact of 300 new buildings and the associated infrastructure will inevitably diminish the historical context of the southern part of the city of Bath, and bring the UK's commitment to its Heritage Assets into question.

Rescue - The British Archaeological Trust 15a Bull Plain, Hertford, Hertfordshire SG14 1DX Telephone: 01992-553377 Charity No. 1064836

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