Archaeology is the study of the past through the material remains left by our ancestors. It can be the only source of information about large parts of the borough’s history. It is a finite, non-renewable and in many cases a very fragile resource, vulnerable to even slight changes to the site or structure.
The evidence can be buried or upstanding, deliberately constructed or the by-product of other activities. It can consist of a few artefacts or an ancient place name.
Archaeological sites and the information they contain cannot be restored once they have been lost. The government has recognised this through publication of National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which provides guidance on the treatment of archaeological remains in the planning process.
Brent has seen comparatively little archaeological excavation since the war and there is the potential for more discoveries through the planning process. In the main, such excavations have been undertaken by the Wembley History Society and in recent years by the Museum of London, but finds have been limited. The most significant being a Bronze Age urn from Brent reservoir displayed at Brent Museum and Archives
Archaeological Priority Areas (APAs) and Sites of Archaeological Importance (SAI).
The council has identified four Archaeological Priority Areas (APAs) where there is significant known archaeological interest or potential for new discoveries. It has also identified 40 local Sites of Archaeological Importance (SAI). APAs and SAI are used to help highlight where development might affect heritage assets.
What it means if your property is in an APA or SAI
Archaeological areas and sites have been identified to help protect archaeological remains that might be affected by development. Sites will always need to be assessed for their archaeological potential when application is made for their redevelopment.
A desk-based assessment will usually be required to be submitted to the council in consultation with the Greater London Archaeological Advisory Service (GLAAS). However, for small residential householder applications it is advised that you contact the planning department to confirm if an assessment is necessary.
Desk-based assessments are reports that consider the likely survival of buried archaeological deposits on the site, the likely significance of such deposits and the impact on them of a proposal. They assess the archaeological potential of a site without requiring any fieldwork. Such reports should be undertaken by specialist archaeological consultant. Archaeological trial investigations (evaluations) may also need to take place before the application is determined or secured by condition on a planning consent.
It should be noted that archaeological remains are not only confined to the archaeological priority areas and sites of interest can be identified outside these zones.
The results of archaeological investigations can be requested from the council's planning department. Alternatively you can request the reports from the Greater London Historic Environment Record at Historic England.