Planning Archaeology in World Cities: Looking at London



The UK’s long history in archaeology owes much of its origins, principles and pursuits to the practices of amateur archaeologists. It has come a long way since its Antiquarian eighteenth-century origins, with its foundations and values shaken by its gradual move towards the predominantly developer-funded profession that it is today. While the UK profession comes to grips with a series of planning policy statements and guidance published since the 1990s, local archaeologists continually renegotiate their roles and responsibilities with politicians, developers, the public and most notably themselves. London’s archaeology is overseen through a complex, and unique, mixture of local and central government controls due to the distinctive political structures of ‘Greater London’ with its overlapping borough, district and city responsibilities. Following national planning policy approaches developed since the 1990s by the government, the majority of actual physical fieldwork undertaken is contracted out through a competitive tendering process. Through a period of uncertainty during the Thatcherite era, the practice of archaeology in London reinvented itself alongside the ongoing survival and activities from communities, local societies and national organisations in the 1990s and 2000s, allowing for colourful—and sometimes contentious—outcomes that can work both for and against archaeology. Now, as neoliberal governance takes hold, dire cuts in government funding since 2010, together with a deregulatory agenda mean that environmental concerns like archaeology are increasingly sidelined. As a consequence, London’s archaeologists have to find more creative and innovative ways to protect and preserve the city’s heritage.


London archaeology Historic environment National Planning Policy Framework PPG16 Rose theatre 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Historic EnglandLondonUK
  3. 3.Stabler HeritageLondonUK

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