St Peter's School development plans: Wiltshire Council recommendation that the site needs more archaeological investigationWiltshire Council's Assistant County Archaeologist is recommending that more work should be done at St Peter's School before planning consent is granted. The development area 'is recorded as the site of the Hospital of St John the Baptist' - which was founded in the town in 1215.
Last November Shelbourne Developments Ltd, the developers who now own the St Peter's School buildings and grounds, undertook - as they are required to do for such a planning application - an archaeological evaluation of the site.
This evaluation included digging three 20 metre trenches in accessible areas of the site - marked in red on the above plan. The report on what was found during the evaluation dig by Foundations Archaeology of Swindon has now been sent to Wiltshire Council.
Based on this report (which is yet to be published), the Assistant County Archaeologist has recommended that "No development shall commence...until a written programme of archaeological investigation, which should include on-site work and off-site work such as the analysis, publishing and archiving of the results, has been submitted to and approved by [Wiltshire Council]".
The Hospital of St John the Baptist was on the edge of the town's medieval streets "...in an area prone to flooding and early records describe the site as 'in the marsh'."
The evaluation recorded evidence of post medieval structures and significant made-ground deposits which may have been laid down to reclaim the formally marshy land." ('Made-ground' means material brought to an area to increase the natural soil level or substitute for it.)
"The evaluation report concludes that there is potential for well-preserved earlier archaeological deposits to exist within the deeper waterlogged deposits."
The notice on the Wiltshire Council planning website says "The work should be conducted by a professional archaeological contractor and there will be a financial implication for the applicant."
REMINDER: there will be an open 'drop-in' session at the Town Hall between 6pm and 7pm on Monday, 13 January when the plans for the St Peter's School site will be on view and the developers will be on hand to answer questions about the development of the boutique hotel and housing. This will precede the meeting of the Town Council's Planning Committee which will be discussing the plans.