Managing risk, reducing costs – a Red River Archaeology success

The village of Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds is well-known as a picturesque tourist destination. Less well-known are the extensive buried archaeological remains across several square miles of the landscape surrounding the village. These include the large Neolithic causewayed enclosure and later Iron Age hillfort of Salmonsbury Camp, the Roman road of the Fosse Way and the small Roman town along its route, and large areas of prehistoric, Roman and Anglo-Saxon farms and fields.

This means that any proposal for development in the area will probably have impact on this significant archaeological landscape and requires specialist input from a professional archaeologist to help through the planning permission process and to satisfy the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework which requires these issues to be addressed and resolved.

Recently Red River Archaeology have successfully completed a project for the Cotswold School in the village. It was known from previous developments at the school that there were significant buried archaeological remains across the whole site and the proposals for new classroom blocks, sports facilities and landscaping would potentially have considerable impact on these.

Mark Collard, one of our Directors, has 20 years experience of working in the area and has particular expertise in assessing and mitigating archaeological impact and achieving Planning and Scheduled Monument Consents for development. He was engaged at the start of the project by Speller Metcalfe who are leading the design and build of the construction project.

Mark worked closely with the engineers, drainage and service consultants, architects and landscape architects to ensure the design of the scheme minimised intrusion into the buried archaeological deposits. This was achieved by a cost-effective design of small diameter piles and slab floors suspended above the archaeological levels, re-use of existing service trenches and restricting new tree planting to previously disturbed areas. This approach had previously been successfully applied by Red River for two developments at the adjacent Primary School.   

A detailed Archaeological Impact assessment and Mitigation Strategy was submitted with the application for planning consent, and was approved fully without objection by the County Council Archaeologist who advises the planning authority. Planning permission was granted by Gloucestershire County Council in early August, with construction due to start in the autumn with only a limited watching brief requirement.

The key outcomes for the client

  • Risks identified and managed throughout the project
  • Planning permission achieved
  • Project cost certainty
  • Expensive archaeological mitigation works avoided (a saving of c. £100,000 for the project)
  • No unexpected delays to the construction programme from unexpected discoveries

If we can help you with managing risk on your development, contact us at

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