Warning new cllrs
Responding to Persimmon
Sustaining 'the story'
Eric Pickles MP
Minister of Transport
Developer letters 1
Old people's home
York Chief exec
Secretary of State
Minister's Call-in letter
Archeologist 5 2012
CYC Chief Exec
CYC Chief exec
Freedom of Information
The experts say
York City Planning documents online
The Final Report
Kindle edition of Finding Fulford is now available
The Fulford Tapestry
City of York Council
2 February 2005
Germany Beck Proposal
Thank you for the advance notice of the provisional date for this
application. This is much appreciated and I confirm that I would be grateful for
a chance to put the case to conserve the battlefield at the meeting on Monday 7
I have two questions:
1 I understand from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister that councils
have been encouraged to introduce a conciliation procedure. Does such as scheme
exist in York? I would welcome the chance to discuss the reasons why the
would-be developers deny us access to the site for our research. I have
submitted copies of the various letters that I have written to Persimmon over
the years asking that we discuss access to investigate the land. I believe there
could be a fruitful discussion if a suitable mediation scheme existed even at
this late stage.
2 The same source (ODPM) informs me that grants and rewards are paid to
planning authorities that work within certain planning guidelines. Could you
tell me if COYC is expecting to receive any monies in this distribution and what
impact, if any, further delay at Germany Beck will have on the Council’s
If I am permitted to address the Planning meeting, I intend to question
whether it is reasonable to expect the developers to keep their word and stick
to agreements or obligations placed on them. I wanted to give advance notice of
this serious charge to give a chance to confirm the facts for the elected
Based on the previous behaviour by the developers and their agents, I
question if it is advisable to rely on the proposed, archaeological mitigation
strategy which will require the developer to do the necessary investigative work
before commencing any building work. I would argue that the necessary
investigative work must be carried out before any sort of planning permission is
Because the battle site lies on the access road proposed, the archaeological
investigation is fundamental to the design of the site. The former must be
completed before any permission is granted. I note from the Land Registry that
the land on the original access route adjacent to the golf course is still held
by a property company.
When dealing with the unknown, such as the archaeology of 100 years ago, it
is important that those undertaking any investigative work are committed to
discovery. On the advice of legal council and the Planning Aid organisation, I
seriously question if this situation could apply once the developer holds any
sort of planning consent. I therefore challenge whether the developer can be
relied to carry out the spirit of the instructions issued by the City of York
Council based on their past performance which I detail below.
I raise these questions in the light of my bad experiences with the
developers and their agents throughout the planning process.
- They were instructed following the 29 July 2001 meeting of the Planning
Committee to consult with me to investigate the site. A meeting was convened
by the COYC archaeologist and a plan made. However, I was not informed when
the work was underway as had been agreed. I was, however, shown the site
briefly as it was backfilled. The work itself was near but not at the agreed
- I noted in earlier submissions that one report, referred to in the planning
application, did not actually exist and the work had not been undertaken.
Happily I was again tipped off when this work was eventually undertaken in
October 2003 where I was able to speak to the developer’s archaeologist.
- This meeting turned into a confrontation with the head of the
archaeological contractors, Ann Finney and myself. It was agreed in front of a
number of witnesses, that it would be good practice to use metal detectors to
check the spoil being extracted as part of some work about to be undertaken on
a revised hydrological plan. Yet again, we were not informed by the developer
but were notified by locals and turned up. We were allowed to carry out some
superficial work because the site manager was one of those present when the
verbal agreement had been reached. We have not seen the results of any work
from the metal that we handed to the investigating archaeologists.
- During the Planning Committee’s site visit I was alarmed that the
developer’s planning consultant, Michael Courcier, made a statement he would
have know was wrong if he had read copies of letters sent to him (and repeated
in my own letters to the developers). He claimed that nobody believed that
this was the site of the battle of Fulford. A letter from English Heritage
contradicts this same claim which is contained in their application.
- Furthermore, the desk study for the original developers (July 1995) not
only said that this area was the site of the battle and recommended that it
should be the subject of further investigation. This inconsistency is also
noted by the City Archaeologist in his report to the Committee. He also notes
that the historic landscape assessment has been dramatically changed to
contradict the earlier opinions expressed on behalf of the developers.
- The public is entitled to expect a level of professional impartiality in
all expert reports. However, the archaeological report that forms part of the
present application was, in some respects, of such poor quality that I asked
for it to be subject to a peer review. The expert, appointed with the help of
English Heritage, was damming, perhaps unfairly so as there is some good work
which does not relate to the battle site. The criticisms in this second
opinion are also noted by the City Archaeologist in his report.
- I have on many occasions asked for copies of information about sources of
certain statements to be provided by the developers, without success. I was
forced to approach the Local Ombudsman as the only way to apply pressure
through COYC to gain access to some of the reports referred to in the original
application. This allowed me to challenge the traffic study which was
subsequently withdrawn and replaced by one that is couched in very general
terms. It raises the question of what might happen if I could also see the
source documents for the environmental, flooding and traffic studies.
- I have already supplied a copy of the one-way correspondence with the
developer and their various agents which I would categorise as tardy,
unhelpful and even discourteous. I have previously written to say that there
was no objection on principle but only to the detail of the access road.
However, their past performance has forced me to change my mind and oppose
this application in principle.
It is sad that the developers have not been willing to cooperate. I believe
it calls into question their suitability to be responsible for the conduct of
any further research work related to the battle site investigation. With their
cooperation, the work could have already been completed by the Lottery-funded
team. I question their motives for refusing us access and have serious doubts
about their suitability to undertake the specialist mitigation work proposed by
the City Archaeologist.
I would be very grateful if you would make the members of the Committee aware
of my misgivings as I will not have time to detail them on 7 March.