Archaeological dig before work starts on new homes

A TOP archaeologist has said trenches should be dug in the grounds of an historic home to check for Saxon remains before a contentious redevelopment project goes ahead. County archaeologist Steve Membery suspects there could be parts of a Saxon settlement

A TOP archaeologist has said trenches should be dug in the grounds of an historic home to check for Saxon remains before a contentious redevelopment project goes ahead.County archaeologist Steve Membery suspects there could be parts of a Saxon settlement beneath the Grade II listed Manor House in Axbridge, where plans to build 10 houses were revealed recently.The proposals have attracted deep concerns in the town, with several prominent groups objecting strongly to the plans.But Sedgemoor District Council planning officers asked district councillors to approve the application at a meeting on Tuesday.Mr Membery suspects the site could be above where a 'Saxon burgh', a chartered town from the Saxon era, once lay.He says a full 'field evaluation' is needed, including digging trenches around the site, because the potential for significant archaeological finds is 'very high'.A similar application was turned down in 2004 when the owner of the home, Ms A Chard, applied to build five flats and five maisonettes.Axbridge Archaeological and Local History Society has said a full archaeological investigation is essential.As well as having its own archaeological concerns, the town council has also said 10 houses is far too many for the size of the site and fears increased traffic would make an already congested area even worse. The Highway Authority has also recommended the application should be refused.However, Sedgemoor officers say archaeological reasons should not get in the way of planning policies and say the new development could enhance the historic nature of the town.However, they have agreed that a comprehensive archaeological survey should take place before building begins.Councillors will decide on the application at a meeting of Sedgemoor's development and control meeting in Bridgwater on Tuesday.


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