Bodies come together to produce guide on impact assessment for cultural heritage

3rd May 2017

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Michelle Juchau

IEMA, the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) are teaming up to produce guidance on impact assessment for cultural heritage.

Guidelines on the topic are currently missing from the heritage profession’s library of resources. ‘Practice in cultural heritage impact assessment is of variable quality, reflecting the absence of widely adopted guidelines,’ said Josh Fothergill, policy lead at IEMA and a member of the project panel that is developing the guidance.

‘The collaboration between IEMA, CIfA and IHBC seeks to address the problem by uniting practitioners from across the impact assessment, conservation and heritage professions and ensure they have free digital access to this much-needed guidance.’

The main purpose of the guidelines, which will be published next year, is to demonstrate how the broad principles of impact assessment apply to, and can support, cultural heritage projects.

The project panel has set a series of objectives for the development and eventual deployment of the guidance.These are to significantly enhance assessment and achieve new good practice, including:

  • all developments must be assessed by a suitably qualified heritage professional or team of professionals;
  • there must be an appropriate level of engagement in all stages of the planning and design process;
  • assessments must be proportionate to the nature of the proposed development and the heritage resource affected; and
  • findings will always be presented using clear, well-defined terminology.

The three bodies believe the guidance will be used by heritage professionals undertaking assessments; practitioners responsible for commissioning assessments; and anyone working in a related discipline who needs to understand the context and nature of cultural heritage assessment in the UK.

Rob Sutton, project panel member and head of heritage consultancy at Cotswold Archaeology, said the success of the guidelines would depend on effective consultation across the sector: ‘We need to build support for this to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone. We’ll be working with practitioners and stakeholders across the spectrum and I encourage IEMA, CIfA and IHBC members to get involved as soon as our consultation begins.’

In the months ahead, the project team will aim to secure sponsors, scope the consultation, update professionals on engagement and provide progress updates.


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