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At the heart of this case are three issues
1. Is this the site of the battle of Fulford?
2. Should we preserve this piece of heritage?
3. Have proper procedures been followed by the developers and planners to ensure that the interests of the community have been represented?
Since there is agreement among all responsible authorities, including the developers, that Germany Beck is the likely location for the battle of Fulford [1.2ff ], the first part of this proof draws attention to the legal and planning rules that protect areas where there is a presumption of an important artefact can be established .
Notwithstanding the agreement about the site, the relevance and defects in the investigations of the battle site are discussed as the case to destroy this piece of the Germany Beck Green Belt [1.6 3.3/3.4]. Failure by the developers to carry out a relevant investigation before the plans were approved coupled with the denial of access to our group to let them pursue this research are inevitably constant themes.
Because this public inquiry has been set up to investigate whether it is safe to allow the present planning decisions to stand, there is a discussion about the decisions made by the supervisory authority, the City of York Council [ 4 ]. This poses many questions for the elected representatives and officers of the local authority that need answering.
Environmental studies are increasingly integrated into archaeological investigations and so this proof deals with the ecological history of Germany Beck from the time that the last ice retreated until the present [3 ]. This points to the beck as an extremely important and rare habitat which has not yet been properly evaluated. The conservation needs of the battlesite and the local ecology are coincident.
In addition to these specific issues, this paper takes the authorities to task on other important issues referred to in the brief for this inquiry. It could be argued that planning is overburdened with regulations, guideline and suggestions. However, the carefully crafted advice that is contained in the many official documents of guidance and statements are there for a purpose. In so many cases they have been ignored by the developer without any explanation or mitigation being offered or challenged by the planning authority. Not only has the local authority failed in it role to genuinely ‘plan’ but has not even effectively administered the planning regulations .
Another matter arising from the supervision of this application is the failure to assess alternative uses . The importance of battle sites, and this battle of 1066 in particular, is argued with the support of all those who have in recent years presented TV series about battlefields [1.2.6]. The heritage, housing and environmental uses that could be made of this large site are set out . The need for housing is also addressed [3.4.1]. It will explore alternative ways of providing genuinely affordable housing that is relevant to the local needs [5.3 5.4].
Planning must involve some compromises but compromise implies public consultation. So the harshest criticism is reserved for the developers and their various agents. All the planning guidance emphasises the importance of making planning an iterative process by engaging the stake-holders. The woeful failure of the developers to take advantage of the help and advice offered has resulted in this attempt to impose an inappropriate development on the landscape and the community.
Mitigations are suggested at each stage. However, since so much fault is found with the process, the present plan should in justice be cancelled with the city planners freed from all previous obligation to allow them to assess an application for this area that will meet the needs of the local and regional community that is consistent with the needs of our heritage and then environment.
In several letters over the years, the Fulford Battlefield Society has invited the developers to discuss ways that will allow our heritage and housing to coexist. In the absences of any discussion, we must ask that the application be rejected so long as the planned access route is along the line of the ditch that separated the armies on 20 September 1066.
To simplify referencing, most of the quotes from documents are included with the text of the source. Limited use of bold has been used to bring focus to the relevant quote. Other information is published on the society website. References to copies of other people’s correspondence or documents are in parenthesis which refer to our internal filing system so that they can be produced if required. Square brackets are internal references within this paper.
This document was been coordinated with The Battlefield Trust, Fulford Parish Council and several individuals to ensure all areas are covered. The Battlefield Trust will set out national perspective of the battle at Fulford. The parish council are leading on the local issues. These are all strongly supported by FBS as they are at the core of arguments relating to the suitability, advisability and relevance of the development proposed.
We will be contributing to these critical issues as they relate to the preservation of the battlesite.
Fulford Battlefield Society
The Society was formalised at the end of 2001 by a number of people who had been independently investigating the site for several years. It was successful in its application for a Lottery Grant from the Local Heritage Initiative fund. This money has been used to expand the project and employ the necessary experts. Five years of work has yielded a substantial amount of data related to the battle although most of the site has yet to be studied because access has been denied on behalf of the developers.