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Archaeology and the Planning Process

The destruction of a non-renewable resource such as archaeology requires moderation and planning. A variety of different types of development may affect archaeological remains – these include new buildings, modifications and extensions to existing buildings, the construction of carparks, road surfaces and the installation of services. In the interests of sustainability all avoidable impacts on the buried archaeological environment is encouraged in accordance with national policy (Framework and Principles for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage, Dept. of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government).

Developers or potential developers (and/or their agents) are encouraged to contact the City Council’s Archaeologist (or an archaeological consultant) to find out if there may be any archaeological implications/requirements within their proposed development site. This is especially necessary in sites which are located within the Primary Archaeological Zone (historic core) of the city. Developers are encouraged to supply an archaeological assessment and method statement outlining construction procedures. An archaeological assessment should be carried out by a suitably qualified archaeologist and should include the following 

  • A detailed account of the historical and archaeological background of the site, including examination of all relevant maps.
  • The nature, extent and locations of any archaeological fabric including industrial archaeological features or buildings within the areas proposed for demolition and redevelopment. This shall be based on detailed external inspections of standing structures.
  • Identification of all constraints within the proposed development such as occupied buildings.
  • The likely impact of the proposed development on any archaeological fabric.
  • Suggested mitigation procedures for addressing these impacts.

The cost of all archaeological work (including post-excavation analysis) necessitated by a proposed development are to be met by the developer. It is therefore in the developer’s best interest to assess and quantify the archaeological implications of a proposed development at the earliest stages in the planning process.

In general archaeological requirements have been addressed as conditions of planning permission. Where the proposed development is clearly incompatible with the archaeological resources of the site, a small number of developments have been refused.

Preservation in situ and preservation by record are the two approaches applied in the protection of the archaeological heritage.

Preservation in-siturefers to the actual physical preservation of archaeological sites and monuments (which include archaeological deposits, features and structures). This is most effectively achieved by the refurbishment of standing buildings in situations where it is possible to retain the greater part of existing structures without the need for elaborate new foundations.

Where archaeological sites are to be removed due to development then preservation by record (archaeological excavation) is essential. In the absence of standing buildings from the earlier periods of Cork’s existence our buried archaeological remains take on increased significance. Most of these remains are fragile and vulnerable in the face of current construction methods. The acquisition and dissemination of knowledge is a core principle of Cork City Council’s policy for the archaeological heritage. To this end all appropriate archaeological excavation should be undertaken to the highest possible standard and where possible the information should be made publicly available.

  • The archaeological remains of potentially significant sites within the Zone of Archaeological Potential will be preserved or investigated
  • Outside the Zone of Archaeological Potential, where in the opinion of the City Council developments involve major ground disturbance; archaeological conditions may also be applied particularly in the vicinity of known monuments
  • The City Council will require that archaeological investigations be undertaken prior to the commencement of development. All such investigations must be undertaken by a suitably qualified archaeologist in consultation with Cork City Council and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government
  • Conditions, which modify the development, may be imposed, in order to facilitate the archaeological investigations or preserve the archaeological record
  • Development proposals for industrial buildings should be accompanied by an assessment of the receiving environment and any new development should be designed in sympathy with existing features and structures
  • Development may be restricted or conditions may be applied in and adjacent to former burial grounds

Link to A Guide to Archaeological Considerations in the Planning Process.

Link to www.archaeology.ie