Fulford Battlefield Research Website


 Recording the events of September 1066
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My side of correspondence is published here to provided a public record. 

I think they illustrate the distain and disrespect that is shown to those who raise inconvenient matters. 

Eventually, and after warning the developers, I published this summary which was submitted to the planning authorities. I asked them to help to arbitrate with the developers or to force them to enter into discussions as the planning rules obligate them to do. Unfortunately I did not get any response from the City planners or elected officials to whom I turned. The failure of the developers and the city planners to do their jobs in respect of the archaeology is reprehensible. But both parties have been allowed to get away with it.

  • First letter drawing the planners attention to the battle December 2000
    • The planning papers were deposited by the developers on 13th December giving the customary 14 days for objections to be lodged. So it was a busy Christmas.
  • Letter to local councillor January 01
    • Reporting difficulties in getting information from developers and city council and asking for their help to correct mistakes.
  • Questioning the accuracy of the claims made about impact of roads Jan 02
    • The document was withdrawn and replaced with a bland and vague document. Alarmingly, by avoiding the awkward details, the revised plan was passed.
    • However, the relevant officer explained when this came for consideration that the road was already working at over 100% capacity and the planning rules say that adding vehicles to a road that is full has no impact. He also pointed out that the Highway Authority who are responsible for the nearby ring road would demand that the city improve the A19 when traffic backed up to the exit ramp. Sadly his wise warning and comments of this experienced officer on the eccentricity of the planning rules were ignored.
  • Letter of June 01 to planning officers
    • I list the defects in the traffic report that tries to justify the acceptability of the access road.
  • Head of planning committee July 01
    • The committee required the developers to work with me and do some relevant work.
    • We made a plan, which they ignored and 'did the work' while I was away. 
  • Letters to chief executive about access to data and planning gain January 02
    • I have not yet seen the ‘planning gains’ nor did I get access to the documents until I involved the local Ombudsman. Happily, the advent the impending Freedom of Information Act improved the situation and it was subsequently not quite so hard to obtain information.
    • Once limited access was eventually gained to one report I noted it did not support the claims made. The traffic study was withdrawn and replaced with the current, vague statement. This was the basis for the eventual approval of the road.
  • Letter of August 02 to planning officers
    • Already raising the accuracy of information contained in the planning application. Ironically, during the process two documents were withdrawn and replaced with ones that were in many respects worse in the questionable way they interpreted the data. It also asks for access to the source data - finally at the  Public Inquiry the inspector was told that the model is commercially confidential and too complex. So we can't know the basis on which decisions are made.
  • I wrote to say the Old Peoples' Home was metres away from the planned access road.
    • The letter was ignored but a decade later the home was abandoned. My letter of 2002 suggested that the developers should pay for this.
  • Letter to developers when planning application is submitted May 03
    • "I am attempting to make you aware of the problem at the earliest possible moment. I have already tried to contact Persimmon and their Archaeological Consultants but have been disappointed at their failure to reply. Please would you encourage the contractors to give this matter their urgent attention. I am not attempting to prevent the development but I am aware that if my objection to the access route is sustained it will strangle the project. My interest is to identify and conserve the battlesite. I believe that it is also in the interests of your clients."

    • Of course, the content of my letter was ignored.
  • List of questions for legal advisors (pro bono) July 03
    • The COYC solicitor was approached and was of the opinion that there were few constraints on developers to be accurate in their interpretation or presentation of the data although they declined to give anything in writing and only replied when pursued on the phone. This has been confirmed by other legal opinions. The view was that we had an expectation but there was no legal sanction if the planning officers failed to do their job. 
  • Parliamentary Question 17 Sept 2003
  • Letter to planners details objections to new submission October 03
    • Raises the extraordinary claims about the battle contained in the re-submitted application and lists the previous statements that contradict the claim now made in the application. The developers had evidently recognised that complete denial about the battle was the only way and the planning system, from the officers to the Secretary of State have connived in this.
  • Peer review of some reports February 04
    • The expert opinion of Glenn Foard, who remains one of the preeminent experts on battlefield archaeology in the world, is very critical of the methods and interpretation set out by the developers. His words are measured but in fact the work provided by the developers fell well short of what should have been acceptable to the officials. 
    • But here we encounter one big problem with the planning system - It is only the developers papers that get read by those making the decisions. Why are the objections filtered through officials?
  • Letter to land agents in Feb 04 when permission is withdrawn to metal detect
    • I suspect at this stage the real threat to the planning application was appreciated by the location of the battle since we had recently disclosed our findings.
    • Following the disclosure, not only was permission withdrawn but the area of the largest metal-working site was brought into the 'red line' or the planning application area and designated a community wood: So not only was the area now 'off limits' to our work but it would not have to be surveyed archeologically since woods are not built on. What a clever ploy to frustrate the battlefield research.
  • Letter of 10 March 04 to Planning Officer COYC
    • This letter raises serious objections to the behaviour of the developers
    • For legal reasons this has been redacted. Developers play rough and plan to win, so be warned.
    • The planners ignored my letter.
  • Report April 04 by city archaeologist
    • Reviews the evidence and proposes further research before full permission is granted. However, it does approve granting of outline permission.
  • Comments by English Heritage May 04
    • '...your authority may still be minded to conclude that on the balance of probability it has a significance as the most likely site of this important event.’
    • This letter was pivotal in the Public Inquiry where the preceding phrase was often quoted out of context. This is what the letter said. 
    • "..while the available evidence is insufficient to allow the inclusion of the site on the Register of Battlefields, your authority may still be minded to conclude that on the balance of probability it has a significance as the most likely site of this important event."
    • Is this sloppy thinking or dishonest manipulation?
    • At the time of writing (April 2012) English Heritage are assessing Fulford for inclusion in the  Register of Battlefields. 
  • Letter of July 04 to head of Planning Committee
    • I ask for help to break the deadlock as the developers were not communicating and, through the landowners, now denying us access to the land for our research.
    • We had made the developers aware of the promising information that was emerging - and this led immediately to the land-owners withdrawing their cooperation. 
    • The complete failure, yet again, of either the officers or the elected officials to take any action to force a proper investigation shames them all. 
    • What harm could come from require the developers to cooperate in allowing access to the land so that the investigation could continue? 
    • It didn't help that a senior official of COYC confided about this time that they admired the way I persisted in spite of the fact that they ignored everything I requested.  
  • Another request in November 04 for permission to work on the land and previous letters are attached
    • Many request were made for
    • I also tell them that I observed people 'lamping' on the site. This is a technique of hunting at night. Around this time the hares (including one spectacular black hare), vanished. I also had reports at this time of people working the beck with ferrets and, sure enough, I did not see much evidence for water voles until 2009.  
  • Letter of 2 February 05 to COYC
    • Asking if there is a conciliation process and documenting the instances where the developers and their agents do not seem to have acted in a way conducive to discovering the truth about the location of the battle.
    • None of the issues raised made it into the briefing given to the planners as I discovered when the papers were made available prior to the public inquiry.
    • In fact my review of all of the letters of objection and the response of the planning officials indicates a contempt for our contribution to the planning process.
  • Response from Battlefield Trust to revised landscape report April 05
    • Identifies the continuing failure to  undertake the necessary, relevant work on the site.
    • This is another damming criticism by experts in the field on the quality of the work being undertaken.
    • It should not be acceptable in a city that prides itself on its archaeological inheritance and a city that has full-time advice available to it that such sloppy work should be allowed to form the basis of any decision without being set alongside this cogent criticism.
  • Response from Battlefield Society to revised landscape report April 05
    • Highlights many errors of fact and interpretation in the developers revised report. 
    • Again, I have to question how it can be acceptable for false information to be allowed to go forward for consideration.  
  • Statement of case January 2006
    • This lists the bullet points of challenge to be raised at the public inquiry.
  • Secretary of state correspondence
    • I wrote immediately after the inquiry ended to point out how unfair the system is. 
    • After writing to the Cabinet Secretary complaining that my letters had gone unanswered i receive a reply.
    • The letter was bland reassurance that they system is well structured to ensure everybody gets fairly treated to which i respond  '....what I have been saying is that they do not stand up to the reality test. '
    • The public planning inquiry system utterly fails any sensible test of just and fair treatment. One witness even collapsed and died after completing their evidence - it was made extremely stressful and the treatment I received was humiliating. The inspector did nothing to help in spite of many requests
  • March 2013 "So you cannot claim that you are an independent and unbiased administrator of the planning process. So my challenge about the democratic legitimacy of the process you are conducting remains."

If you want to understand a bit about the insane rules under which planning operates then read my letter published in the local press. It describes two incidents when the inspector ignored reality because it was contrary to the official view. 

The Minister has determined that the battlefield will provide the access road to this housing development. There is a news release.  Efforts must now be devoted to ensuring that the rest of the site as well as the exciting finds we have made are properly investigated before the site is destroyed.


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The author of the content is Charles Jones - fulfordthing@gmail.com   Last updated April 2015

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