Fulford battlefied under threat

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Summary of published report

Archaeology work
Precautionary principle
Supervisory failures
Site's potential

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7. Community

7.1. Much attention has been drawn to numerous failures to consult the community. This contrasts with the approach taken by the developers with the community approach adopted when investigating the archaeology on the Osbaldwick site where open days and displays were a feature. Compared with the public consultation entered into by the proposers of the Hungate or Osbadlwick developments, the developers of the Germany Beck have offered few opportunities for the public to inspect their plans. Not only have meaningful images been missing but there has been relatively little communication with the local community.

  • 7.1.1. Consultation itself is not the only issue. It is important is that developers open a meaningful dialogue where plans are adjusted to address the issues raised which they completely failed to do.
  • 7.1.2. This follows the advices in PPG16:10 ‘Much can be achieved within the wider planning process when developers are prepared to enter into discussions with archaeologists and consider fully the needs of archaeology.’

7.2. When inspecting the planning papers recently it was sad to see how very few of the issues raised by those outside the circle of ‘statutory consultees’ penetrated the planning process. This is not the place to discuss democratic accountability but there is a grave deficit when it comes to these large projects in contrast with small developments where some would claim the process is ‘too democratic’ and open to protests.

7.3. There is no mention in the internal, executive summary of 29 July 2001 of over 30 letters of complaint that had already been received from the public although these contained detailed criticisms, advice and suggestions from stakeholders who new the area will. This is a pity.

  • 7.3.1. Consultation is a process in which both sides must engage.
  • 7.3.2. The system operated by the council in responding to letters might accord with ‘targets’ by responding in a certain time but it would have been meaningful if the points had been summarised within the papers presented to the elected representatives so that they were aware of the number and subjects being raised by members of the public. If this happened, it left no trace in the files.
    • It was impossible to find out if the letters had been seen by anyone other than the officers. If they were not seen by the elected representatives, it shows great disrespect for the effort expended by so many people.
    • It contrasts badly with the approach adopted by the planning inspectorate where objections are circulated to other parties.
  • 7.3.3. Coupled with my own experiences and the failure to follow up or take seriously the points raised, the officers do not seem to have taken the many representations from the public seriously. It was disillusioning to discover just what a sham public consultation seems to be. For an issue that has such an impact on the environment in which people live, it was impossible to detect that any of their suggestion were considered during the administration of the application. This public inquiry is the last chance to air the important criticisms of the Germany Beck proposal.

7.4. The ODPM’s call-in letter enquires if, ‘recognising the importance of the countryside around all urban areas, to those who live there and also providing the nearest and most accessible countryside to urban residents.’ The plan that has been prepared clearly breaches this obligation. Working on the site over the years, the use that is made of this land for recreation cannot be overstated. The network of good footpaths make Fulford a wonderful place for walker, runners, children and those with animals. The development will deprive them not simply of countryside but of access to it by designing the access road to cut across their footpaths.

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The site was updated  14 June 2011