13 February 2010

Heritage denied ?

Here in Seaton it is easy to forget that we live on top of important ancient remains - and the Regeneration Area is no exception.

Devon Archeology wrote to East Devon District Council in December last year warning that the Tesco ziggurat might damage some early post-medieval salt panning remains and suggesting that the land be surveyed before any work is done.  We are urgently seeking confirmation of the position, but we understand that EDDC have refused to listen to this advice.

If their refusal is confirmed, this is but the first nail in the coffin of Seaton's heritage.  We recognise that the needs of tomorrow must, in the end, take precedence over the remains of our ancestors, but that is no excuse for gross vandalism.  The archeologists would not stop the work, only delay it until a record is taken.  The TV programme Time Team has shown how popular archeology has become, so this could represent an important increase in Seaton's tourist offering.

PPG16 Archeology and Planning advises : "No development shall take place within the area indicated (this would be the area of archaeological interest) until the applicant has secured the implementation of a programme of archaeological work in accordance with a written scheme of investigation which has been submitted by the applicant and approved by the Planning Authority."  

Unfortunately, PPG16 can only advise, not direct; so local authorities can choose to ignore it.  How EDDC makes this choice will tell us a great deal about how much they value the traditions and heritage of the Axe Valley, and how much they value a lickspittle compliance with Tesco hurry-up tactics.   If they are rushing this minor operation, how will they respond when something really serious comes along - such as designing the wall around their great lake of seawater and silt.

This infill project is fast becoming one of the most radical, most expensive and most ridiculous operations of recent planning history. 

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