Desk-based Research & Assessment

Suffolk Archaeology can provide detailed site assessments as part of pre-planning project design and consultation, or for support of planning applications …

Desk-based assessments (DBA's)

These reports are often requested by local planning authorities and their archaeological advisors during initial pre-planning consultation or on receipt of hitherto unknown planning applications. Alternatively they may be independently commissioned by owners/developers as an initial step in assessing a prospective site’s viability.


1818 print of the remains of the medieval St Gregory’s College, Sudbury, Suffolk

A DBA will establish a suitable Study Area, usually extending 500m or 1km from the site boundary, so that the site is examined in context with its surroundings. It will then collate and assess the data for the Study Area from a range of available sources in an attempt to establish the previous landuse and history of a site, and the potential it may have for containing heritage assets such as buried archaeology. The DBA will then try to assess the potential for survival of such assets, and the extent to which they could be impacted upon by the proposed development. DBA’s will also consider the impact of the proposed development upon its surrounding environs and nearby heritage assets such as Listed Buildings or Conservation Areas.


Estimated position of the medieval St Gregory’s College, Sudbury in a Suffolk Archaeology DBAOur DBA’s typically take 3-4 weeks to produce and include analysis of data held on the National Heritage List for England, the relevant County Historic Environment Record for the site and its environs, and in previous archaeological reports (including our own extensive archives). All DBA’s include a basic study of historic mapping and a site inspection and additional elements, such as full assessment of documentary and cartographic records held at local Record Offices or national archives, or assessment and rectification of aerial photographs held in regional or national archives such as the English Heritage Archive at Swindon or the Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs (CUCAP), can also be included.


Environmental impact assessments

Suffolk Archaeology can also produce Heritage Chapters for EIA’s, describing the likely impacts of a proposal on heritage assets and the historic environment. These can be commissioned as stand-alone pieces of research, or be derived from separate stages of work such as DBA’s, geophysical surveys and archaeological evaluation.

Case Study

Princes Street, Ipswich, Suffolk

Site as shown on Pennington's map of 1778

Suffolk Archaeology prepared an archaeological Desk Based Assessment in advance of a planning application for proposed office development on an area of open ground off of Princes Street, to the south-west of Ipswich town centre.


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