Archaeology in Bromley

An outline of archaeology in Bromley and information about archaeological consultancy and archaeological excavations and surveys.

Archaeology in the borough

Archaeology is the remains of past human activity that survives into the present day. It is an irreplaceable resource, one that must be protected to ensure its survival for future generations to study and enjoy.

There are a number of important archaeological sites within the London Borough of Bromley, ranging from Crofton Roman Villa in Orpington to the remains of a moated Tudor mansion in Chislehurst. Some of these sites are Scheduled  Monuments (SAM), which means they are of national importance and are protected by government legislation. Policy 46 of the adopted Local Plan  deals with these. A full list, of Scheduled Monuments, including location maps and information about each site can be found on the Historic England website.  Any proposed works to a Scheduled Monument will require consent from the Department of Culture Media and Sport and advice from Historic England.

In addition there are parts of the borough that are recognised in the Local Plan as being Areas of Archaeological Significance (AAS), see Policy46 .These are areas, such as the historic town centre in Bromley, that may have important archaeological remains surviving. If a proposed development takes place in an AAS then the preservation or recording of archaeological remains will be an important consideration.

These areas were reviewed by Historic England in 2020.  The archaeological priority area review splits Bromley into three tiers of archaeological significance indicating different degrees of sensitivity to groundworks. A fourth tier covers all other land, reflecting the possibility of discoveries being made outside areas of known potential:

  • Tier 1 is a defined area which is known, or strongly suspected, to contain a heritage asset of national significance (e.g. a scheduled monument or equivalent); or is otherwise of very high archaeological sensitivity.
  • Tier 2 comprises local areas within which the Greater London Historic Environment Record (GLHER) holds specific evidence indicating the presence or likely presence of heritage assets of archaeological interest. Tier 2 APAs will typically cover a larger area than Tier 1 APAs.
  • Tier 3 is a landscape‐scale zone within which the GLHER holds evidence indicating the potential for heritage assets of archaeological interest. The definition of Tier 3 APAs involves using the GLHER to predict the likelihood that currently unidentified heritage assets, particularly sites of historic and archaeological interest, will be discovered in the future. Tier 3 APAs will typically be defined by geological, topographical or land use considerations in relation to known patterns of heritage asset distributions.
  • Tier 4 is any location that does not, on present evidence, merit inclusion within an APA. Tier 4 areas are not necessarily devoid of archaeological interest and may retain some potential unless they can be shown to have been heavily disturbed in modern times. Such potential is most likely to be identified on greenfield sites, in relation to large‐scale development or in association with listed buildings or other designated heritage assets.The new 2020 boundaries are material to the determination of planning applications in Bromley and will be used in place of the areas identified in the Local Plan. However, they will not appear on the Local Plan map until this is reviewed and adopted.

While the new tiers cover different and more extensive areas than those identified on the adopted policies map, the operation of Policy 46 remains the same – proposals involving excavation or other ground works in an identified area should provide appropriate information to enable this to be fully assessed. Further details on the information required is set out in the local validation requirements.

Policy HC1 of the London Plan  will also apply to development proposals.

Archaeology and the planning process

Archaeology is a material consideration in the planning process. In Bromley all planning applications are monitored by the Greater London Archaeology Advisory Service (GLAAS). If the development has archaeological implications it is GLAAS who make recommendations to the local planning department about the appropriate course of action. This may result in an archaeological planning condition.

Archaeological work before and during a development can take a number of forms:

  • desk based assessment: a detailed appraisal of available information about a site before a planning application is submitted or approved.
  • field evaluation: a survey or trial excavation designed to assess the nature of archaeological remains within a proposed development area before planning application is submitted or approved. Techniques may include fieldwalking, geophysical survey and trial trenching.
  • excavation and recording: a controlled programme of fieldwork to provide a lasting record of archaeological evidence unavoidably destroyed by development.
  • watching brief: the recording of archaeological evidence coming to light during the course of development.

If the site contains significant archaeological remains then the priority will be to preserve them in situ. To achieve this, the archaeological impact of a development could be minimised by for example, sympathetic foundation design or amendments to the layout.

It is national and local practice that the costs of archaeological work made necessary by development should, in most circumstances, be borne by the developer.

When thinking about a new development it can often be helpful to consult planning, Bromley Historic Collection service or the local sites and monuments record (at GLAAS) to determine if there are any archaeological remains in the area.