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Agenda Item No.

 

VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

PLANNING COMMITTEE: 21ST OCTOBER, 2010

 

REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 29TH SEPTEMBER, 2010

 

 

C1071        HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT RECORDS: DRAFT GUIDANCE FOR LOCAL AUTHORITIES (PT) (SCRUTINY - ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT) -

 

Cabinet received a report which:

 

·                         informed of the Cadw consultation on 'Historic Environment Records: draft guidance for local authorities'

·                         sought approval of the Council's formal response to the consultation document, a copy of which was attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

Part 5 of the Heritage Protection Bill proposed a legislative duty on local planning authorities to create and keep up to date a Historic Environment Record (HER).  Whilst Parliamentary time had not been found to read the Bill, Cadw remained committed to placing local authorities under a duty to prepare HERs. 

 

HERs were intended to provide access to information relating to the historic environment for public benefit and use.  The four principal HERs in Wales were the direct descendants of the Sites and Monuments Records established in the 1970s by the four Archaeological Trusts in Wales to assist their own work programmes and in response to the lack of archaeological information available to owners, developers and planners and the consequent loss of archaeological remains through urban and rural developments. 

 

The Glamorgan and Gwent Archaeological Trust (GGAT) had prepared the Vale of Glamorgan's HER. 

 

The draft guidance advised that GGAT created the HER in 2008 and continued to manage and maintain it.  It was noted that no consultation had been carried out with the Council regarding the contents of the HER.  The draft Guidance also advised that Cadw still intended to place a duty on local planning authorities to prepare and maintain a HER.  They also intended making a provision for local authorities to outsource all of their functions under this duty to another provider (such as GGAT) by means of a Memorandum of Understanding or Service Level Agreement. 

 

Furthermore, Cadw's intention was that, although the HER functions may be exercised by a third party, responsibility for what was done (or not done) remained with the authority, so that 'democratic accountability and normal public law remedies would be preserved'.  The Council's most recent Memorandum of Understanding with GGAT stated that 'the Regional Historic Environment Record is owned by the GGAT HER Charitable Trust and incorporated data that should only be used on accord with the terms and conditions of access.'  This placed the Council in a position where it was responsible for the maintenance of the HER without retaining ownership of the information. 

 

The draft Guidance advised 'the standards and service levels of the four regional HERs are monitored on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government by RCAHMW' (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments in Wales).  Whilst they were not statutory, it was noted that HERs were recognised by Planning Policy Wales and as successors to SMRs had an intrinsic link to spatial planning.  They were relied upon to inform the Council and public on archaeological matters. 

 

Should a statutory duty be placed on the Council to prepare and maintain an HER there were effectively two options open to the Council - to prepare and maintain an HER itself, or to outsource the HER to a suitable outside body (such as GGAT or another service provider). 

 

Cabinet's attention was drawn to a letter which had been sent to the Council by GGAT, dated 3rd June, 2010, which advised of potential issues relating to its financial stability as a result of an ongoing VAT issue with H.M. Revenue and Customs.  The letter advised that should GGAT be found liable for a potentially large VAT bill it would become unviable with a suitable body to undertake its work unlikely to be found.

 

Cabinet would be kept informed of any developments with regards to GGATs viability.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision.

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T the response to Cadw (attached at Appendix A to the report) be approved as the Council's formal response to the consultation on the Guidance.

 

(2)       T H A T a copy of the report be presented to Planning Committee for information.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       To provide the Council's comments to Cadw by 8th October, 2010.

 

(2)       To ensure that Planning Committee is informed of the publication of the consultation on the draft Guidance.”

 

 

Attached at Appendix - Report to Cabinet: 29th September, 2010

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