Historic Environment Service Specifications and Charging Policy

1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM
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Last updated: 05 July 2021

December 2010 (Updated March 2014)


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Title Historic Environment Service Specifications
and Charging Policy
Author Sandy Kidd, County Archaeologist
Derivation -
Origination date 6 December 2010
Revisors SK / EA
Date of last revision 25 March 2014
Version 2
Status Implementation of cabinet member decision
dated 12 February 2014
Summary of changes Update policy to NPPF and include new charges
Circulation County and District Planning, Historic
Building Officers, Archaeological
Consultants and Contractors, BCC web site.
Required action -
File name/ location N:\Place\Archaeology\Historic Environment Charging
and Service Specification
Approval -


The effect of development on the historic environment is a material planning consideration, national policies and procedures for which are set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. The Buckinghamshire Council Archaeological Service maintains the Historic Environment Record (HER) for the county and provides archaeological advice to the planning teams(Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe Districts). The council has an approved policy for charging for historic environment services covering:

  • Licensing the commercial re-use of information indexed through the Historic Environment
  • Provision of information and advice in support of agri-environment grant schemes (in
    accordance with a national agreement)
  • Pre-consent advice on development proposals of potential archaeological interest
  • Post-consent consideration of documentation required to comply with planning


1. Services to householder and non-commercial customers are not normally chargeable.
2. Milton Keynes Council has its own independent HER and advisory service.



To request a service please either visit the online archaeological advice shop or complete the relevant form. You will be asked to provide certain information. Once we have all the information we need to process the enquiry we will ask you to sign an agreement to pay a specified fixed charge (where applicable) and (for HER searches) abide by a licence agreement. We can only process an enquiry once an appropriately validated and signed form
has been received. The forms are:

Alternatively enquiries can be posted to: Buckinghamshire Archaeological Service,
County Hall, Aylesbury, Bucks HP20 1UY. 



Payment can either be made online through the archaeological advice shop, in advance by cheque or invoiced on completion. Cheques should be made payable to 'Buckinghamshire Council' and post to: Buckinghamshire Archaeological Service, County Hall, Aylesbury, Bucks HP20 1UY. Please write 'Bucks - Archaeology Service' and your name and address on the back.

Where two or more requests are made at the same time (e.g. for an HER search and planning advice) it may be appropriate to combine into a single payment.

View our schedule of charges.

VAT is not payable on HER or HLS searches.

*For residential purposes a major development is one where the number of dwellings to be constructed is 10 or more (or a site area of 0.5 hectares). For all other uses, a major development is one where the floorspace to be built is 1000 square metres or more, or where the site area is 1 hectare or more. 


Archaeology Planning Advice Service Specification

A. Pre-application Advice

Pre-application advice applies to any case of proposed development where consent has not already been granted. Charges relate to the provision of planning-related archaeological advice based on information held in the Historic Environment Record. Advice can include meetings or site visits – in some cases a meeting or visit will necessary to provide useful advice. Advice may include recommending seeking further advice on matters not covered by the Archaeological Service (e.g. listed building or scheduled monument consent), recommendations for full specialist assessments or archaeological field evaluation. We do not normally search sources other than the Historic Environment Record but occasionally a rapid appraisal of a local source (e.g. historic maps) may be undertaken. The purpose of pre-application advice is to give an initial appraisal of what historic environment issues may be encountered progressing a proposal to determination, and what further steps are recommended in order to address those issues. In particular, written advice will:

  • Identify historic environment records within the proposal site
  • Identify designated heritage assets within the proposal site or in the immediate vicinity
  • Indicate the significance of the known heritage assets, the site’s archaeological potential,
    and the possible effects of the proposed development (insofar as that can be ascertained
    from the information supplied)
  • Indicate whether there is a need for further specialist assessment, archaeological
    evaluation or consultation with other heritage experts (e.g. conservation officers, English
  • Summarise the key points of any meeting or site visit.

The output will be a letter which indicates either that: a) no historic environment concern has been identified or b) specific matters have been identified which could be addressed by a condition attached to a planning consent or c) further consultation or specialist research is required into specific matters in order to inform a planning application or d) that the proposal raises fundamental concerns with respect to specific matters. All advice is provided on the basis of information available at the time and without prejudice to the determination of a planning application – policy, professional practice and evidence may change necessitating changes of approach.

B. Post-consent Advice

Post-consent advice applies where a development has been granted planning permission subject to conditions requiring the protection or investigation of the site's archaeological interest. Charges relate to commenting on written schemes and reports submitted in connection with them.

Written schemes

Conditions normally require the local planning authority to approve a written scheme which is prepared by an archaeological consultant or contractor using a brief prepared by the County Archaeological Service. For small-scale works a ‘generic brief’ available on the BCC Archaeology web site will usually be applicable. For major or complex projects a bespoke brief will be issued by the Archaeological Service. The planning authority will expect the developer to have agreed the content of their written scheme with the Archaeological Service. A charge is made for consideration of the written scheme. The customer will receive a letter which will either: a) indicate that the written scheme is acceptable as submitted and can be recommended for approval, or b) that it is generally acceptable but that certain minor amendments or clarifications are requested before it can be recommended for approval or c) that it is not appropriate to the circumstances, and an indication of why and what needs to be done. In case b) an amended scheme will be considered at no extra charge.

Site monitoring visits

Site monitoring visits are necessary to ensure fieldwork is undertaken in accordance with the agreed written scheme, and in the case of large excavation projects, to sign off areas to be released for development. A charge is made for site monitoring visits. The number of anticipated monitoring visits will be stated in the agreed written scheme.


Final discharge of a condition for archaeological investigation requires the submission of a report to the Historic Environment Record. For small-scale projects a charge is only levied if the report does not meet the required standard - in this case a charge will be made for written advice indicating the nature of the shortcomings judged with respect to the approved written scheme and relevant professional standards. Where appropriate, the advice will indicate amendments required to overcome any problems. For major projects a charge is made for consideration of each report and provision of written comments. In each case one amended version will be considered at no extra charge.

The HER is a complex GIS-based database containing information on a wide range of buildings, monuments, find spots, places, and landscapes of archaeological, architectural, artistic or historic interest. It includes, but is not restricted to, designated heritage assets (conservation areas, listed buildings, registered parks and gardens and scheduled monuments). Historic Environment Record (HER) searches provide information selected from the record, normally for a defined area, although bespoke searches can also be done for particular periods or types of records The HER includes both digital and hard copy information and references to other sources held outside the HER. It is constantly being enhanced and the absence of a record should not be relied upon as an indicating a lack of heritage interest, other national or specialist sources may contain information not currently held or indexed.

HER searches take three forms: the strategic search provides GIS-based designation and characterisation data only and is only appropriate to high-level strategic studies not scheme specific assessment. Remote searches involve supply of digital data whilst HER visits require a personal visit to the HER in Aylesbury. The latter must be booked in advance and are only necessary to view material only available in hard copy. The HER Officer will endeavour to assist in establishing whether a visit is advisable but cannot be expected to undertake a detailed assessment of the relevance of specific material.

BC aims to respond to straightforward HER search requests within 10 working days, and to all requests within 20 working days. Where a shorter turnaround is required a priority search is normally available with a response within two working days.

Charges are levied for a licence to re-use HER information for a specified commercial purpose. The level of charge depends on the number of monument records within the search area:

Standard search (up to 50 monument records) Typically 1km radius in rural areas, 750m radius in villages, 500m radius in smaller towns, 250m radius in large urban areas such as Aylesbury, Buckingham, or High Wycombe.

Extended Search (51 - 150 monument records) Typically these will be pipeline routes, areas over 1km radius in rural areas or over 250m radius in large urban areas.

Large, Complex or Bespoke Searches Unusually large or complex searches involving over 150 monument records or two hours of officer time will be individually costed, typically at £50 per 50 monuments records. (NB: the priority search option is not available for these searches).

Digital datasets supplied Format
Monuments records Database records as pdf file; mapping
as ArcGIS shapefiles or pdf copy of
GIS map
Events (investigation) records Database records as pdf file; mapping
as ArcGIS shapefiles or pdf copy of
GIS map
Historic Landscape Characterisation
Database records as pdf file; mapping
as ArcGIS shapefiles or pdf copy of
GIS map
Designation records Database records as pdf file; mapping
as ArcGIS shapefiles or pdf copy of
GIS map
Historic routeways Mapping only
ArcGIS shapefiles or pdf copy of GIS
Historic field names Mapping only
ArcGIS shapefiles or pdf copy of GIS
Historic ridge and furrow Mapping only
ArcGIS shapefiles or pdf copy of GIS
Surviving ridge and furrow Mapping only
ArcGIS shapefiles or pdf copy of GIS
Archaeological Notification Areas Mapping only
ArcGIS shapefiles or pdf copy of GIS
Oblique aerial photos Only images covered by copyright
agreements to be supplied
Pdf copies
Contractors reports Directly relevant reports∗ covered
by copyright agreement to be
supplied (all investigations within
or on adjacent site)
Pdf copies
Conservation Areas

Database records as pdf file; mapping as ArcGIS shapefiles or pdf copy of GIS map

Strategic search

Digital datasets supplied Format
Designation records Mapping only
ArcGIS shapefiles
Archaeological Notification Areas Mapping only
ArcGIS shapefiles
Historic Landscape Characterisation
Mapping only
ArcGIS shapefiles

Contractors and consultants wishing to obtain bulk downloads of spatial data for designated sites are encouraged to obtain the definitive datasets from Historic England.

Conservation area documents can also be obtained on the area webpages. 

Aylesbury Vale 


South Bucks 


HER visit

Information supplied (where held in HER collections)

Designation documents
Oblique and vertical aerial photos
Relevant historic mapping including historic ridge and furrow, geological maps
Specialist plans or drawings
Published sources
Contractors' and other fieldwork reports
Conservation/Management plans
Site specific backup files (envelope files)



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