Mr Chris Jarvis
North Yorkshire County Council
Minerals & Waste Planning
County Hall
Northallerton
North Yorkshire
DL7 8AH

Our reference: P00025529

27 January 2006

Dear Mr Jarvis,

Planning Application accompanied by an Environmental Statement for the proposed extension of sand and gravel workings and variation of Condition 2 of Planning Permission C2/92/500/53, Ladybridge Farm, Moor lane, Thornborough.

LADYBRIDGE FARM Moor Lane, Well, Bedale, East Tanfield
Your ref: C2/04/500/0053A

Thank you for your letter of 6th January 2006 in which you have provided further information enabling us to assess the impact of the proposals for the above site. We are now able to offer the following advice.

English Heritage advice

Background

This letter continues our advice contained in our initial and subsequent advice letters on the above application, dated: 11th August, 2004; 27th June, 2005; 8th September, 2005 and further clarifies the response of English Heritage to the above named application in the light of the information supplied to us in January 2006; "Report on an Archaeological Investigation", Mike Griffiths and Associates, December 2005.

As stated in earlier responses, English Heritage wishes to acknowledge the substantial work undertaken by Tarmac Northern and their consultants in putting together this body of information.

Significance of Assets

The application site lies within the Swale/Ure catchment. This larger area contains the most significant concentration of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments and related archaeological deposits in the north of England. Within this larger area are seven henges, a cursus, several barrows, enclosures, pit alignments and the Devils Arrows standing stones. Many of the features within this landscape are scheduled as nationally important, whilst the application site itself is immediately adjacent to the three henges on Thornborough Moor, which are unparalleled in their size, alignment and form. The clustering of features (including the henge monuments) dating from the early prehistoric to the Romano-British period is mirrored at Newton Kyme and Ferrybridge.

The new archaeological evaluation report of December 2005 has addressed our initial concerns with regard to the characterisation of the archaeological deposits at Ladybridge Farm. The combined results of the two archaeological evaluations at Ladybridge Farm have identified the continuation of a swathe of nationally important early prehistoric archaeology and activity from the Nosterfield site into Ladybridge Farm, concentrated in the southern half of the application site. English Heritage considers that a clear relationship has been identified between the prehistoric activity on Ladybridge Farm and Thornborough Moor.

English Heritage considers that the report clearly demonstrates that the Nosterfield and Ladybridge deposits form part of the northern edge of an eastward projecting promontory of higher, drier ground. All of the prehistoric activity – monumental, ritual and non-ritual - is located on this promontory, and thus the evaluations have defined an area containing a nationally important prehistoric landscape displaying complex spatial components and relationships.

Impact of proposals on significance.

The minerals planning proposal from Tarmac Northern Ltd will have a clear and negative impact on nationally important archaeology.

Recommendations

Position of English Heritage

The advice of English Heritage on the Ladybridge Farm application is as follows:

English Heritage sustains its objection to the classification of the application as a small-scale extension to the existing quarry (see Appendix One for detailed comment on the Minerals Local Plan context). The application therefore constitutes a departure from the Minerals Local Plan. English Heritage believes that the application would be more appropriately considered as part of the Minerals Local Plan Review (MLPR), due to commence in 2006. The significance and sensitivity of the Thornborough landscape, and the strong public interest in its future management, require exactly the wider strategic consideration of the options for meeting the County’s gravel needs which the MLPR will provide.

English Heritage believes that the archaeological evaluations have now adequately characterised the deposits within the Ladybridge Farm site and we have no hesitation in asserting that these deposits are of national importance, dating from the Neolithic period and related to the adjacent monument complex and its wider landscape as defined by the higher ground of the eastward projecting promontory.

English Heritage further advises that the proposed after-use strategy is an inappropriate landscape treatment with regard to the setting of the monument complex, particularly with regard to the accumulated impact of another body of water on the visual setting of the henges.

English Heritage advises that the application be refused on the following grounds:-

Next steps

We consider that the implications of this application are so significant that we would welcome the opportunity of advising on any further proposals.

Please send us a copy of the decision notice in due course. This will help us monitor actions related to changes to historic places.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Redfern
E-mail: