The problem with English Heritage……
Due to it being a Scheduled Ancient Monument, there can be no work in the Abbey Fields involving breaking the ground without the direct input of English Heritage; they must be consulted on every project. But what they actually submit can be difficult to discover…..
In the Sustrans report, covering three potential cycle path routes across the park, English Heritage are mentioned just twice; once to record that EH took part in an onsite discussion, and the second to say they had no objection to a path passing under Townpool Bridge. They are known to have dictated areas of the park a cycle path should not go (I was told this in a private conversation by the man from Sustrans who actually drew out the proposals) but what they actually reported has not as far as I know been made public.
We can perhaps though assume the statement (taken from the Sustrans remit) – “The route and its construction should not impact on the local archaeology” – was guided by EH
We can also be sure that Warwick District Council have contacted English Heritage again whilst finalising their new proposals (2022 -23); as it appears using existing paths, ensuring little or no further archaeology is disturbed, is the outcome, we can assume EH has wielded its influence again.
English Heritage has been quite happy with burying known but unexplored archaeology underneath the car park and had no objection to the hard surface.
English Heritage have had no problems in allowing the destruction or covering of recently discovered archaeology on the swimming pool site.
Perhaps of more relevance, English Heritage had no problems with the major rebuilding of the cow path which passed over archaeology; this is more akin to the creation of a new path for cycling.
So why are EH dictating the course of the cycle path when the above three points show they have no concerns in the concreting over of archaeology in the park? Surely any route* could be treated the same way?
English Heritage appear at best to be inconsistent in their recommendations, but they are responsible for insisting all the recent archaeological investigations were carried out, and for this we must be very grateful.
(* Except of course over the Abbey itself, but then there is no plan anywhere near those remains)
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