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Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Regional Planning Policies: Policy CON 6 Archaeological Sites and Monuments

Policy CON 6 Archaeological Sites and Monuments
This policy has been superseded by: PPS 6-Planning,Archaeology and the Built Heritage
To safeguard features of the historic landscape including archaeological sites and monuments and their settings.
Archaeological remains can provide evidence, sometimes the only evidence, of thousands of years of human activity and settlement in Northern Ireland. They are all individually important, and can have group value as an area of historic landscape. Some are distinctive landmarks, others are scarcely visible except to the trained eye or are no longer visible above ground but survive beneath modem fields and settlements. They are fragile, and vulnerable to damage and destruction. They are a finite and diminishing resource which, once destroyed, cannot be replaced. Every archaeological site or monument which is destroyed means loss of part of the record of our past.
The work of scheduling historic monuments continues. The fact that an archaeological site or monument has not received specific statutory protection does not diminish its individual archaeological importance, or its significance as an element in the historic landscape.
Development plans will contain policies for the protection and, where appropriate, the enhancement of archaeological sites and monuments and their settings, and will, where appropriate:
  • indicate measures to protect the surroundings of State Care monuments;
  • take account of opportunities to enhance specific monuments;
  • ensure that monuments within development limits, which are to be preserved, are appropriately zoned and
  • identify areas within historic settlements which may require mitigation which may include excavation in the context of redevelpment.
Development plans may also designate Areas of Significant Archaeological Interest, for example, as around Navan Fort outside Armagh. Such areas will defme the overall setting within which a number of individual and related monuments are located, or areas of historic landscape. The potential effect of proposals on specific sites and their settings, as well as on the integrity, or the overall character of the area, will be a major consideration in determining applications for development.
Great weight is attached to the protection and preservation, and, where appropriate, the enhancement of sites of archaeological interest and their settings. In all cases the desirability of preserving an archaeological site or monument and its setting, whether scheduled or otherwise, is a material consideration in determining planning applications. There will be a presumption in favour of the physical preservation of archaeological sites, monuments and remains and their settings.
Development which would be likely to alter, damage or destroy individual sites or monuments, or result in inappropriate change to the settings of such sites or monuments or to the essential character of an Area of Significant Archaeological Interest or to the historic landscape will not normally be permitted.
In assessing the archaeological implications of a development proposal, the potential impact of the proposal on the site or monument and its setting, or on buried remains, will be considered and in particular, whether the development would cause damage or whether the existing quality of the site or monument, and its setting, will be retained.
Developers should seek to identify the existence of archaeological remains which may be affected by their proposals so that appropriate strategies to deal with the archaeological implications can be designed at an early stage. Where development proposals are acceptable, but archaeological mitigation is appropriate, consideration will be given to:
  • proposals to retain the remains within the final development;
  • design alterations to avoid disturbance of remains, or to minimise potential damage; and
  • opportunities to preserve remains for the future even though they may currently be inaccessible.
Planning permission will not be granted for a development which would destroy archaeological remains which ought to be preserved in situ, even if the developer offers to facilitate excavation.
Where a decision is taken to permit development which will result in archaeological destruction, planning permission will normally be conditional on the completion of a licensed excavation and recording of remains, before development commences. In such cases an agreement may be made under Article 40 of the Planning Order (NI) 1991. Planning permission may be refused if archaeological mitigation or protection measures cannot be agreed upon.
In situations where significant remains are discovered after approved development has commenced, the Department will consider whether or not it is expedient to schedule the remains and may, if necessary, revoke the planning permission. In most cases it should be possible to reach an agreed solution with the developer.
Where an archaeological site or monument or its setting or an Area of Significant Archaeological Interest might be prejudiced by development permitted under the Planning (General Development) Order (NI) 1993 the permitted development rights may be withdrawn.
Archaeological research continues and new and exciting discoveries are made. The discovery of archaeological remains, which have not been previously known, may represent a material change which can affect the nature of the development which will be permitted in respect of an area within a development limit, or within the countryside.
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