The Archaeology Planning Advisory Service (APAS) is a sub-regional service which provides advice on the archaeological implications of development for Cheshire West and Chester (CWAC), Cheshire East (CE), Warrington and Halton Borough Councils. The service operates as a shared service between CWAC and CE, and provides services to Halton and Warrington via service level agreements. The service to Halton also includes the provision of advice on the implications of development on the built historic environment. The service is hosted by CWAC.
The service was reviewed in 2014 to consider the ongoing viability of the current service provision, the potential for future service delivery and the opportunities for increased efficiency through growth or retraction of service delivery.
The review process consisted of staff consultation, key stakeholder consultation with services users and national bodies such as English Heritage, public consultation and soft market testing.
Key finding from the consultation were:
- High levels of satisfaction with APAS and the advice provided across the four authorities served.
- Successful sub-regional working already in place – a good base on which to build for future service delivery.
- Good performance with a track record for budget efficiency and securing external funding.
- Limited market for externalisation and potential for conflict of interest.
It was anticipated that the review would also be informed by a Ministerial Inquiry in to the archaeology sector carried out in 2014, but this report is still outstanding. However English Heritage has recognised the issues faced by local authorities and has identified collaboration with local authorities to explore alternative models for providing heritage advice in the Historic England Action Plan 2015-2018.
Following approval of the review recommendations by the Cheshire West and Cheshire East Shared Service Committee on 27 February 2015, the Archaeology Planning Advisory Service will:
- Be retained in-house in an enhanced form of the current sub-regional service, through closer partnership working with other heritage agencies.
- Remain within the Total Environment Service.
- Explore closer partnership working with Chester University, English Heritage and neighbouring authorities and income generation through project working.
- Explore opportunities for income generation through introduction of charges for selected archaeological development management services.
Future staffing structure
The current Service Manager post will be deleted, with service management being transferred to the Total Environment Manager. The archaeological professional lead will devolve to the current Principal Development Management Archaeologist, who will still lead on development management. Other staff members will be: one development management archaeologist and two historic environment record officers. This staffing structure will take effect from 1 April 2015.