Venue: Mezzanine Room 3, County Hall, Aylesbury. View directions
Apologies for Absence / Changes in Membership
Apologies for absence were received from Martin Andrew and Gary Marshall
Declarations of Interest
To disclose any Personal or Disclosable Pecuniary Interests
The following members declared an interest;
Mr Chapple as a Trustee of the County Museum
Mr Whyte, Mr Cashman and Mr Pushman as members of the Archaeology Society
Mr Cashman as his partner has an interest in Quarrendon Leys
of the meeting held on 18 September 2014 to be confirmed
The minutes of the meeting held on 18 September 2014 were agreed subject to the following amendments;
Declarations of Interest
Mr Chapple is a Trustee of the County Museum
Matters Arising from the Minutes
Oxford Diocese Representation
Confirmation has been received that Julian Mumby is the representative for the Oxford Diocese. Unfortunately Julian has not responded to an email sent about attending future meetings of the Forum or providing a written update.
Development Land transfer at Quarrendon Leys
Discussions are on-going. The solicitor has received an email advising that the developer is not prepared to pay for legal fees. The legal costs have doubled due to the delays encountered. The matter will be discussed with the Service Director, Legal.
Action: Richard Pushman
Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire (BOB) Conservation Group
English Heritage has been advised of the 2015 meeting dates for the BHEF.
Membership of the Forum
The Royal Institution of British Architects for Buckinghamshire is to be contacted to discuss representation.
Excavation projects in Aylesbury Road, Bierton & Bridge Street, Buckingham
A copy of the letter sent to Sue Polhill, Aylesbury Vale District Councillor about the project at Bierton and the 68 page report on the Bridge Street Investigation in Buckingham have been circulated to elected members.
Open Day at St Mary’s Church, Stoke Mandeville
The open day was well organised and attended. In terms of HS2, if there is a tunnel for Wendover, the line will be moved slightly and will be adjacent to the church.
Mike Farley reported that
‘HS2: Heritage on the Line’, a
one day conference on what the HS2
high-speed rail line would do to Buckinghamshire’s Heritage
is taking place on Saturday 16
May at Weston Turville Village
Hall. Tickets are available from the
County Museum in Church Street, Aylesbury, or
Bill Chapple referred to the visit to the local area from the Parliamentary Select Committee for HS2 which is supposed to take place in the spring. It looks likely that the visit could be delayed due to the elections taking place in May. It is hoped that the Select Committee will look at Stoke Mandeville in great detail.
Members of the Forum are asked to ratify the changes to the Constitution discussed at the September meeting of the Forum (see attached).
Members of the Forum AGREED the following amendments to the Constitution.
Part 3 – Membership and Representation
a) iii) portfolios are to be amended to Planning and Environment and Transportation.
Part 7 – Quorum and Procedure
Attendees of the Forum meetings are to be reminded about their duty to disseminate information appropriately.
Part 8 – Admission of the Press
Title to be amended to Admission of the Media and Public
The wording of the paragraph is to be amended to ‘the Press and members of the public shall be admitted to meetings of the Forum unless excluded by resolution of the Forum’.
Part 9ii – Variations of the Constitution is to be deleted.
De-cluttering programme in town centres
Update from the Chairman
The Chairman reported the following;
The de-cluttering programme in town centres has not progressed as quickly as anticipated due to the restructuring of the Conservation Area Team at Aylesbury Vale.
The de-cluttering programme is led by the District Councils through Conservation Area staff. Most of the work is carried out by Highways and is therefore being delivered by Transport for Buckinghamshire (TfB). The programme includes signage and pavement repairs.
Regular meetings are taking place with the Local Area Technician in North Bucks about the final project. The Bucks Scheme has been topped up by English Heritage Grant funding and by maintenance monies.
It has been quite difficult arranging a co-ordinated approach to the de-cluttering programme.
The following question was asked.
Has consultation taken place with town councils about the de-cluttering programme? Yes, town councils have been consulted about the programme. A disability access audit took place last autumn. The funding is in place for the programme and has been signed off. The work needs to be ordered and agreed.
· Report of the Senior Archaeological Planning Officer
· Report of the Archaeological Planning Officer
· Report of the Historic Environment Record Officer
Philip Markham, Senior Archaeological Planning Officer gave the following update.
High Speed 2
Discussions are ongoing. HS2 Ltd has responded to the formal petition submitted to the Government by Bucks County Council. Bucks Archaeological Officers have subsequently requested clarification of certain aspects of the response via the HS2 team. A meeting to discuss the petitioning points is likely to be held shortly to try to get clear and responsive answers. Archaeological officers still attend the HS2 Heritage Sub Group meetings. A 30/40 page report of generic written schemes for investigation (WSIs) has been received which contains very little detail. Comments have been sent to HS2 Ltd.
A meeting took place in Birmingham to discuss the delivery strategy. The Archaeological Officer from Buckinghamshire advised that the baseline standard needs to be up to date before the strategy can be looked at in detail and comments made.
Discussions about the significant Roman findings in the site adjacent to St Rumbold’s Well, Buckingham are ongoing. The preferred option would be to preserve the archaeology in situ.
Evaluation of the sites confirmed the presence of Romano-British settlement remains in most cases. Options for protecting the site are being discussed.
During discussions, the following comments were made and questions asked.
HS2 Ltd documents show a distinctive line of the HS2 route but there are no details about maintenance/access roads. Officers need to bear in mind the effect of these roads on the area when an archaeology report is submitted.
Where there is evidence of corners being cut during discussions, has this been well documented as this could provide basic future evidence in court of bad practice. There is no evidence of corners being cut in the documents that have been supplied. The documents advise that the details will be provided in due course. Where archaeological officers have asked for further detail, the relevant documents have been provided often lacking detail.
The extended tunnel option has quite substantial additional works associated which will be very disruptive. HS2 Ltd documents include certain items that the archaeological officers would like to see covered. We try to influence the process but once the Bill has been signed, this is technically outside the planning process.
Has the impact of the tunnel on potential archaeological sites been looked at and have archaeological officers been consulted? Archaeological officers at Bucks County Council and staff at Wycombe District Council have not been consulted. Stoke Mandeville is an individual element. There is the need for some HS2 Ltd points to be generic to cover all eventualities, such as the archaeological investigation of compound sites.
If the HS2 route is moved away from St Mary’s, the line will run closer to the village of Stoke Mandeville where there could also potentially be sites of historical interest. The details about the potential revised routes for HS2 have not been received as yet. It is also about strategic planning.
Appeals against four large planning applications around Aylesbury have been dismissed. There is the need ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Nick Crank, Senior Archaeological Officer, Milton Keynes referred Members of the Forum to the report included with the agenda which gave details overview of archaeological matters that have taken place in Milton Keynes. The following key points were noted.
Field Work projects
A resistivity survey and trial trenching have recently been carried out in Stantonbury to inform proposals for a new country park at Stanton Low. The project is largely funded by S106 monies. The area contains a considerable amount of heritage interest such as the well preserved foundations of the manor house, an ornamental pond and various pathways. The aim is to try and build on existing records without compromising the findings. Further stabilising work is needed on the church as well as improvements to the security. A management plan including designation proposals will be produced. It is hoped that the site will be respected and valued as it has not been well looked after.
The high number of consultation requests on planning matters has continued over the last three year. Recruitment is currently taking place for an additional Conservation Officer.
Historic Environment Record
A business case for the appointment of an HER assistant is currently being prepared.
Archaeology Day 2014
The 8th annual Milton Keynes archaeology day took place on 8 November 2014. The event was well attended. The programme of activities and talks included a lecture from Sadie Watson from the Museum of London Archaeology on the British Archaeological Award winning excavations at the Bloomberg site.
Reviews of conservation areas tend to be requested by local residents. A recent review of the Loughton Conservation Area has resulted in the proposal of a revised boundary as well as management proposals.
Eliza Alqassar, Archaeological Planning Officer advised the following.
The Emergency Recording Fund was used in October 2014 to fund the excavation of a Roman casket burial, found by a metal detectorist during a rally on land near Whitchurch, Aylesbury. Oxford Archaeology was commissioned to excavate the burial which took place over a period of three days.
The find included a Roman wooden casket burial, Samian ware cups and dishes, a pottery flagon, an iron lamp holder, a red jasper intaglio ring and a bronze handle. The find has emphasised the importance of the site.
The excavation cost was £1572, micro excavation of the cremation was £1400 and the report was £1600, giving a total spent of c.£5000 to date.
In the interim there is still a small amount of work to be paid for to complete the excavation and to prepare the items for archiving. This includes the excavation of the base of the flagon, processing the environmental samples and getting the finds archive-ready at a total cost of £880 plus vat. Members of the Forum were asked if they wold agree to these further costs. A quote of £3600 has also been received for publication costs, but it is not anticipated that this would come out of the Emergency Recording Fund.
During discussions, the following comments were made and questions asked.
What is the definition of publication costs? As all archaeological fieldwork, removing a find from the ground is the start of a process which is not completed until the objects have been conserved, stored in a recognised repository and a full report on the find has been made publicly available.
Brett Thorn explained that the County Museum has agreed to pay for the conservations costs and the long term care of the artefacts but there is work to be done in the laboratory to get the items ready to be archived. Fund raising would have to take place for the monies to complete the works.
· The Emergency Fund is in place for finds such as this. The District Councils put a small amount of funding into the Emergency Fund each year. It is good to see it being spent on something worthwhile.
· Does the Emergency Fund include covering costs for publication?
· There is £3000 remaining in the Emergency Fund. This is a ludicrously small amount for an emergency. Metal detecting activity is highly unpredictable.
· Metal detecting is a commercial activity. Metal detecting organisations/groups hire fields from the landowner and charge individuals to take part in an event.
· The Government is trying to cut the post of Finds Liaison Officer
· Thought needs to be given about areas that are not developer funded and what can be done about future finds.
· The Bucks Historic Buildings Trust has funding which they have not spent. Is it possible to access these funds? The meagre figure in the emergency fund to deal with any potential major finds is a concern. There is also the issue of how the Emergency Recording Fund ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
Reports of the Keeper of Archaeology and Finds Liaison Officer
Brett Thorn, Keeper of Archaeology, Bucks County Museum explained that he has been involved in a new important research project with two post graduate students and three volunteers to look at human skeletal remains, using DNA to look at origins and to see if migrants in history can be spotted.
In December a hoard of more than 5200 silver was discovered at a site near Whitchurch. This is the second largest find of coins. The last find was over 100 years ago. Quick identification of a few of the coins suggests they are probably silver pennies of Ethelred and Cnut whose reign ended in 1035. 40 different Mints are included in the find. One coin is from the Buckingham Mint.
The coins fit the criteria to be declared as a national treasure. There will be the opportunity for the County Museum, Aylesbury, the Milton Keynes Museum, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and the British Museum to try to acquire the coins. The coins would be a fantastic acquisition for the County Museum.
The Trustees will make a decision about what to do with the coins after they have been evaluated. The full market value will be split between the finder and the landowner. This is estimated to be at least a six figure sum.
During the update, the following points were made and question asked.
With regard to the project looking at human skeletal remains and DNA research, the Bucks Archaeology Society strongly suggests the remains at the Stoke Mandeville site should be preserved above ground for future study and academic interest. It is very important to be able to have access in due course.
County Museum Trust is still located in premises belonging to the Archaeological Society. Discussions are taking place with the Legal Department at the County Council but there has been difficulty in reaching a decision. A meeting is taking place with the Chair of the Trust next week. A holding lease is in place at the moment.
The feelings about the find are mixed because of its sheer size. The coins would entice visitors to the County Museum and would be a major draw. The value of the hoard needs to be discussed and confirmed. There are national grants available but a sum of money would need to be drawn together locally for the long term storage and care of the coins.
Has the possible acquisition of the coins been discussed with the Buckingham Old Gaol Museum? If the County Museum manages to acquire the coins, there is no reason why parts of the collection should not be loaned to other museums.
Report of the Regional Archaeologist
National Trust report tabled at the meeting
Noted by members of the Forum
Check Typo in the report
Report of the Diocesan Archaeological Advisor
No report was received
Conservation Officers' Reports
· Aylesbury Vale
· Milton Keynes
· South Bucks
Aylesbury Vale District Council
Corry Cashman gave the following update.
The Buckland Conservation Area has been reviewed. Ivinghoe and Quainton are in the process of being reviewed. Little Horwood is likely to be the next review undertaken.
The Buildings at Risk Volunteer survey is going well. Packs are being put together for volunteers to go out into the field and survey buildings (from the public highway only). The English Heritage online tool for data entry will then be tested. It is hoped that the information packs for the first tranche of volunteers will be sent out shortly.
Otherwise business as usual
Wycombe District Council
Hugh McCarthy reported the following.
The profile for the Brunell Railway Building has been raised with the Department for Transport. It would be good for the mural to be improved and for interest in the building to be increased.
Milton Keynes Council
Conservation matters for Milton Keynes were covered under Item 8 of the agenda
No reports were received from South Bucks and Chiltern District Councils.
Any Other Business
Villages are putting together development plans. Do archaeological officers get involved at this stage? The Senior Archaeological Planning Officer said that archaeological officers are involved in neighbourhood plans and development plans; however they are not usually consulted. The officers look at what is published by the Districts and attend to give advice and suggest that consultation takes place with HER.
Aston Clinton has started work on their development plan. Bearing in mind the activity taking place in the local area, early involvement from archaeological officers would be welcomed.
In terms of the protocol for the County Council and parishes, have archaeology officers been involved in Neighbourhood Planning. The Archaeological Planning Officer advised that she has been involvement in Neighbourhood Planning.
Members of the Forum were advised that suggestions for future agenda items to make the meetings as useful and productive as possible are welcomed.
Date and Time of Next Meeting
Monday 21 September 2015, 2.30pm
Monday 21 September 2015, 2.30pm. Venue to be confirmed