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Archaeology and planning

Gateshead Council's policies towards archaeology are based on guidance contained within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (2012). 

Our Local Plan was adopted in March 2015. This and the forthcoming Development Plan Document (DPD) - Making Spaces for Growing Places sets out the Council's specific plan policies for archaeology.

Early consultation with the County Archaeology Officer is of enormous importance during the planning process. They can provide an initial appraisal of the likelihood that archaeologically sensitive deposits need to be considered for any specific planning application, and give advice on the steps that may need to be taken at each stage of the process.

If a development site is within an area of potential archaeological interest the applicant may need to provide the Planning Authority with information of the likely impact of the scheme on any buried remains. This is estimated from existing records, including historical accounts, and reports of archaeological work in the vicinity, in conjunction with a number of sources which suggest the nature of the deposits on the site, like bore-hole logs and cellar surveys. This is presented in a standard format, known as a Desk Top Assessment or DTA. If the scheme proposes works to historic buildings or structures, the County Archaeologist may require a Building Recording to be submitted.

The result of all the initial work is a Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI) a detailed document which sets out the precise work required, covering the area to be excavated, the volume of deposits to be recorded, the methodology employed, the degree of expertise required, the amount of analysis and research required, finds collection policies, conservation of perishable artefacts, the deposition of finds and archives and the eventual publication of the results. Such programmes are expensive and time-consuming, and represent to the developer a construction cost against which to balance the real benefits of locating the development within the historic environment.

Archaeology and planning permission

Archaeological remains should be preserved in situ wherever possible. Conditions may be attached to planning permission requiring archaeological investigations to be undertaken (as set out above) or on site watching briefs and trial trenches during the course of the construction works, and will include for the recording of any remains which will be removed, or destroyed, by the development.

The County Archaeology Officer will provide briefs for all archaeological works required throughout the course of pre-planning advice and formal planning applications, and will monitor all works.

Historic Environment Record (HER)

People have left their mark on the natural environment in many different ways. Some are very obvious like the remains of Hadrian's Wall, or the industrial workings from coal mines. Some however, are much harder to find: traces of wooden buildings, sites where food production took place or long forgotten rubbish pits. Any surviving evidence has built up over time and left a landscape full of clues about life in the past.

The Historic Environment Record provides a record of these clues.

The County Archaeology Service (opens new window) is responsible for maintaining and enhancing the Tyne and Wear Historic Environment Record. This is a database of known archaeological and historical sites throughout the five districts which once formed Tyne and Wear (Gateshead, Newcastle, North and South Tyneside, and Sunderland) including monuments, earthworks, cropmarks, historic parks and gardens, battlefields, industrial sites and twentieth century defence sites. The service holds a wide collection of associated historic maps, photographs, archaeological fieldwork reports and reports on historic building recording. The Historic Environment Record is available for public and professional consultation by appointment only.

You can view the HER and accompanying archives by visiting the County Archaeologist's office at the 9th Floor, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne. NE1 8PD during normal office hours, Monday - Friday, by appointment only.  To make an appointment please contact Jenny Morrison on 0191 211 6218 or via email at

You can also access the HER through Tyne and Wear Sitelines. (opens new window) There are currently over 10,000 records available of archaeological sites and finds ranging from prehistoric rock art to World War II pillboxes, Listed Buildings to burial mounds.

Scheduled Ancient Monuments

Historic England states that "every corner of England holds the archaeological remains of our long and varied history - the farms and forts of our ancestors, their burial grounds and sacred places, their fields and mins.  This heritage tells us about past societies and enriches our quality of life, and contributes to our local character and sense of place today".

Scheduled ancient monuments are those sites which are of national significance. The sites are designated by Historic England under the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act. Such sites range from prehistoric standing stones and burial grounds, to Roman forts and medieval villages, and include more recent structures such as collieries and war time pillboxes .

Any works to a site designated as a scheduled ancient monument require scheduled monument consent through Historic England. (opens new window) This is in addition to any other planning controls such as planning permission. 

Where buildings are both scheduled and listed, scheduled monument legislation takes precedence, and scheduled monument consent rather than listed building consent is required for works.

You can search for scheduled ancient monuments on our interactive Core Strategy Map (opens new window) and on the Historic England website. (opens new window)

There are 16 scheduled ancient monuments in Gateshead. These include Ravensworth Castle, Gibside Hall, Whinfield Coking Ovens, Old Hollinside, Dunston Staiths and Bowes Railway including Black Fell Hauler House and the Waggon Sheds.