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Greater London Archaeological Priority Areas

Archaeological Priority Areas (APAs) are areas where there is significant known archaeological interest or potential for new discoveries. APAs are used to help highlight where development might affect heritage assets. This page provides a summary of what APAs are, and how they are defined.

What is an Archaeological Priority Area?

An Archaeological Priority Area is a defined area where, according to existing information, there is significant known archaeological interest or particular potential for new discoveries. APAs are set out in the London boroughs' local plans. They inform the practical use of national and local planning policies for the recognition and conservation of archaeological interest. The Greater London APAs are based on evidence held in the Greater London Historic Environment Record (GLHER).

The Greater London APAs were created in the 1970s and 1980s either by the boroughs or local museums. They are now being comprehensively updated using up to date evidence and consistent standards to comply with National Planning Policy. The new system assigns all land to one of four tiers denoting different levels of sensitivity to development indicated by an archaeological risk model.

archaeological risk model

* Very large majors with a site area of 10 hectares or more
** Other than new or extended basements

High risk means developments likely to cause harm to heritage assets of archaeological interest and fairly likely to cause significant harm.

Moderate risk means developments fairly likely to cause harm to heritage assets of archaeological interest and sometimes causing significant harm.  Because they are more common, moderate risk cases cumulatively pose an overall threat broadly equivalent to the high risk category. 

Low risk means developments less likely to cause harm to heritage assets of archaeological interest and only rarely cause significant harm. But low risk is not the same as negligible risk: some sites in this category will have potential for new discoveries.

Negligible risk means developments only rarely causing harm to heritage assets of archaeological interest and hardly ever causing significant harm.

Further explanation of the risk model will be provided in the new GLAAS Charter (forthcoming).

Find out more about APA Tiers and how they are defined in our Archaeological Priority Area Guidelines.

Greater London Archaeological Priority Area Guidelines

Greater London Archaeological Priority Area Guidelines

Published 25 July 2016

These guidelines have been produced as part of a programme to review, revise and update the Archaeological Priority Areas across Greater London to provide a consistent framework for documenting archaeological interest for planning purposes.

How do I find out where the Archaeological Priority Areas are?

This section provides details on the on-going project to update the Archaeological Priority Areas and information on where APAs are located in each London borough.

Boroughs which have been revised in accordance with the new APA Guidelines:

Boroughs currently being reviewed in accordance with the new APA Guidelines:

  • City of Westminster
  • Hackney
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Wandsworth

Boroughs which were updated between 2010 and 2013 before the new APA Guidelines:

Boroughs which had 'light touch' reviews between 2007 and 2011 before the new APA Guidelines:

Boroughs which have not had an APA review for more than ten years and are due to be updated over the next five years:

(For information on Archaeological Priority Areas in the City of London or Southwark you should contact the archaeological officer in these boroughs for more information).

What does it mean if my property is in an archaeological priority area?

An archaeological priority area is an area defined to help protect archaeological remains that might be affected by development. It is generally unlikely to affect individual homeowners whose property falls within one of these areas, unless it is located in a particularly sensitive location.

However, larger sites in these areas will always be assessed for their archaeological potential when application is made for their redevelopment. We strongly encourage you to contact our Advisers at an early stage if you're considering the development of a site which falls within the low, medium or high risk categories explained in the risk model above.

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