The Devon Karst Research Society
.
THE CATTEDOWN BONE CAVES,
Cattedown, Plymouth, Devon, England, U.K.
.
Special Link Page :
ACTUAL AND POTENTIAL THREATS TO THE CAVES AND KARST OF THE CATTEDOWN PENINSULA
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Updated on 13 June 2007.
INTRODUCTION :
It is somewhat incredible that, in the UK in the 21st Century we have to reveal a situation which is almost unbelievable, until one realises it is happening in the notorious City of Plymouth in Devon. The infamous Plymouth City Council, who head the Unitary Authority have a record of very poor management of the City and its people. This is documented in the Public Record. It currently operates with a Government allocated "2 Star Rating" for its overall performance.

What has been allowed to happen over the past 10 years at Cattedown under the watch of the City Council has been unacceptable. We shall now catalogue in some detail, the gradual erosion and destruction of one of the most important areas of human heritage in the country.

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The Scientific Integrity of the Karst-environmental Context of
Scheduled Ancient Monument
"WORTH'S CATTEDOWN BONE CAVE"

versus

HANSON QUARRY PRODUCTS EUROPE Ltd
The Ridge, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol BS37 6AY.

(Agent Name & Address:
HANSON AGGREGATES
Trusham Quarry,
Newton Abbot,
TQ13 0NX.)
(for the Concrete Batch Plant Planning Application)
and
the disinterest and Intransigence of
PLYMOUTH CITY COUNCIL'S POLITICIANS.

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sub-Link Page to HANSON PLC
"Statement on the Environment"

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Link to HANSON PLC Website
http://www.hansonplc.com

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The Recent role of the company
"CATTEDOWN REGENERATION"
in the degeneration of the
Human and Natural Heritage at Cattedown
(MD is Mr Tim Jones.)
 

[More to follow]
 
 

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Loopholes regarding the "Setting" of an Ancient Monument
in the English Heritage Scheduling.

This contentious issue is about matters of the "contextual setting" of Ancient Monuments and relates to the importance and status of the area surrounding the protected Ancient Monument, but which itself is not within the boundary of the Ancient Monument.
 

[More to follow]

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1...Current Actual and Potential Threats to the Environmental and Scientific Integrity of the Scheduled Ancient Monument SM29678 "Worth's Cattedown Bone Cave",
......Cattedown, Plymouth, Devon; [Case History No. 1.]
-..Historical Contextual Resumé :
After the turn of the Century, the far south-west corner of the Prince Rock Quarry (Cattedown East Quarry) was gradually taken over by the railways serving the storage and distribution depots of the expanding Oil Industry and the Chemical Industry. In this area, just to the south of then extant Shapter's Field grassland and immediately north of the East Portal of the Cattedown Railway Tunnel, the Plymouth Corporation Abattoir was constructed along with hide- and bone-processing factories during the 1940's. These installations survived until the late 1990's when the Abattoir became redundant and was demolished.
Around this time, several "interesting" events happened.
-..An established local construction company trading under the name of Carkeek & Sons Ltd., suddenly ceased to trade and its records disappeared. The Company was based in Alexandra Road, Plymouth. Carkeek had a good reputation and was profitable.
-..The Plymouth City Council's long established Engineers and Works Department at the Prince Rock Depot, ceased to exist as part of the "reorganization of the City Council's operations".
-..The Public Property represented by the old Plymouth Abattoir Site, was sold off by the Plymouth City Council to Hanson Group.
-..The Property represented by the Higher Cattedown Road was extinguished as a Public Highway, thus ceasing centuries of Public Access over the Down.
-..A Company called Cattedown Regeneration Ltd. appeared on the scene and claimed ownership of parts of the extinguished highway and surrounding areas of land.
-..The Shapter's Field area was quarried away and the ground prepared as part of a development by Cattedown Regeneration Ltd.
Of course, we mention these pertinent facts only in passing briefly through the recent history of the almost total degeneration of the area and most certainly not for any other reason! We are currently unprepared to enlarge upon these events.

The future of the old Plymouth Abattoir site is now under contention.
What happens at this site in the near future, if the extant Planning Application is successful, will seriously affect the scientific and karst environmental integrity of the adjacent and contiguous Scheduled Monument of "Worth's Cattedown Bone Cave" and further degrade or totally destroy other cave sites within the land bounded by the former Plymouth Abattoir.

-..Relevant Karst Geological Setting :
The area under contention is to the immediate south of structural geological formations which, to a large extent, have controlled the type of karst evolution and cave development in their vicinity. To the south of these structural geological formations, cavern development has mainly taken the form of widened rift caves developed on massive vertical fractures, some of which are proven to extend from the original surface of the limestone grassland of the "Cat Down" Plateau to the base of the limestone below sea level. The principal "sets" of vertical fractures trend either N-S or E-W with some others at 45º to these two main directions. Some of these vertical fractures (=joints) are Master Joints, cutting through many bedding planes of the limestone bedrock, whilst other fractures are so massive that they are, in reality, faults. In addition to these Rift Cave developments, there are the usual associated phreatic cave passages, which meander around, along and through many of the structurally controlling features of the limestone geology - in an apparently uncontrolled fashion. Worth's Cattedown Bone Cave formed along a combination of the two types of cavern development mentioned above; ie. within both a "rift cave" type of development also containing "phreatic" type passages. Worth's original bone cave is partly extant and can be seen to be part of an even greater extant cave system, predominantly of the "rift cave" type.
The well-defined N-S and E-W trending passages and fissures of this system cross into "Unscheduled" land to the east of the Ancient Monument and into the site of the former Plymouth Abattoir, unfortunately now in the ownership of HANSON, who do not have a particularly good reputation for responsible management of the environment from which many of its subsidiary operations make £millions of profit.

-..Recent Developments :
The old Plymouth Abattoir Site occupies ground adjacent to and contiguous with the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Worth's Cattedown Bone Cave. This small parcel of land was prime development property and, unknown to the Society, was sold off by the City Counil to Hanson Quarry Products Europe Ltd., who wished to construct a concrete-batch manufacturing plant on the location. Again, unknown to the Society, Hanson Group applied for and were successful in obtaining Planning Permission for this proposed development. This Planning Permission, if not taken up by some constructional activity, was due to expire in late July 2005. We were made aware of this situation in late July 2005.
A Hanson representative, then contacted the Society for an urgent Site Meeting at the end of July 2005. Their Area Operations Manager, Mr Steve Thatcher, came to Plymouth to meet us. The Planning Application was then fully discussed in context. 
Then came a fresh Planning Application by Hanson in which the previous site layout was considerably revised because the construction plan wouldn't physically fit into the Abattoir site as originally planned!! Hanson have been actually proposing that the new Planning Application was submitted because they wanted to meliorate the effects of the construction of the Plant on the karst geology underlying the Site and thus protect any extant buried archaeology. THIS CLAIM IS NOT TRUE.
Hanson's environmental legacy as a result of their minerals extraction and minerals processing operations in the UK is appalling. Their only interest is in making money out of the environment and there is certainly no quick money to be made by protecting the environment. Using the environment in a responsible fashion for their purposes is a concept that, if introduced, would also reduce Hanson's profit margins. This reality somewhat contradicts what Hanson PLC publish as their own perception of their environmental responsibility, the text of which can be accessed either directly via the Hanson PLC Website (a Link is given in the left-side column), or indirectly via a sub-Link page in these Webpages, via another Link provided in the left-side column.
The politicians of the Plymouth City Council have it in their power to prevent this karst environmental catastrophe from happening. Unfortunately, they seem to have neither the will nor the interest and concern to do so.
The extant Planning Application by HANSON could be circumvented by the Plymouth City Council who could offer HANSON GROUP a more suitable, alternative location in which to undertake their environmentally degrading operations.

Additionally, the Society is not particularly enamoured by the Statutory responses of English Heritage in this matter. In their letter to the Planning Authority dated 05 April 2007., they begin quite responsibly with the remark :-
"Unfortunately this information for the foundations (taken together with the Archaeological Assessment) does not clearly identify how any potential damage to important deposits within the fissures in the limestone will be avoided."
This is quite a valid remark. It then continues with ....
"Given the potential significance of the archaeological deposits, we advise your Council to ensure adequate arrangements are secured to mitigate any potential threat to the archaeological resource. Such a strategy should comprise the appropriate supervision of all deep excavations associated with the development. Should this exercise demonstrate the presence of significant archaeological material, which will be threatened by the development, arrangements should be made to archaeologically record, remove and analyse these deposits."
This is totally unacceptable! Where they exist, such deposits must be left in situ and undisturbed as a critical element of future study within the extant karst environmental context. Removal of such an important archaeological resource in the context of its relationship with the contiguous internationally-relevant Scheduled Ancient Monument cannot be contemplated. Once removed, the scientific integrity of the contiguous Scheduled archaeological areas is affected.
We condemn English Heritage for this irresponsible statement. They are compromising the archaeological context of the very Scheduled Ancient Monument they are supposed to be protecting!
As you might expect, we are in direct communication with them about this matter and more generally about their stance in "protecting" the wider environmental integrity of the Scheduled Ancient Monument. Our initial enquiries were forwarded on 25 April 2007. It should be noted that as of 11 May, we had not received a reply from English Heritage to our enquiries about these issues. So, we decided to web-publish our letter to English Heritage (as given below) for the purposes of Public Information.

"Dear Mr Morrison,
___________________________________________________________________

PLYMOUTH CITY COUNCIL PLANNING APPLICATION No. 06/01181/FUL.
Site : Land at the old Plymouth Abattoir, Shapter's Way, CATTEDOWN, Plymouth.
versus
The continuing scientific integrity of SM29678. Worth's Cattedown Bone Cave.
____________________________________________________________________

We have been watching the events surrounding the progress of the present Planning Application by Hanson Aggregates (for Hanson Quarry Products Europe Ltd.) on land adjacent to and contiguous with the Scheduled Ancient Monument SM 29678. Worth's Cattedown Bone Cave, at Cattedown, Plymouth.
In particular, we are monitoring the Planning Application documentation available to the Public via the Planning Online section of the Plymouth City Council's Website.

We feel that we must proffer a response to the contents of the English Heritage letter dated 05 April 2007, which itself is an official Consultation Response to the Planning Application and was made available on-line by the PCC on 18 April 2007.
(For reference, I have attached the relevant EH letter as a .pdf file to this e-mail.)

In the context of earlier communications on the same issue, this letter begins quite responsibly with the remark in the second paragraph :-
"Unfortunately this information for the foundations (taken together with the Archaeological Assessment) does not clearly identify how any potential damage to important deposits within the fissures in the limestone will be avoided."
So far so good.
It then continues with the following, in the next paragraph :-
"Given the potential significance of the archaeological deposits, we advise your Council to ensure adequate arrangements are secured to mitigate any potential threat to the archaeological resource. Such a strategy should comprise the appropriate supervision of all deep excavations associated with the development. Should this exercise demonstrate the presence of significant archaeological material, which will be threatened by the development, arrangements should be made to archaeologically record, remove and analyse these deposits."

We find the wording of this third paragraph rather astonishing and to be contrary to the assured protection of the archaeological resource  -a very finite resource-  of the area.

If we have understood you correctly, your interpretation of mitigating."any potential threat to the archaeological resource." is for PCC to make "arrangements ... to archaeologically record, remove and analyse these deposits." should appropriate supervision of all deep excavations "demonstrate the presence of significant archaeological material, ..."

I must advise you that in the Society's opinion, any such deposits MUST IN NO WAY be removed, let alone under such conditions. How could there possibly be a professional, multi-disciplinary evaluation of such deposits appropriate to the contextual importance of the Site, under the conditions of suspension of the development of the site? The Abattoir Site is DIRECTLY CONTIGUOUS with the Scheduled Ancient Monument area and the removal of any archaeological deposits from within the development site will compromise the context of the Scheduled Monument itself - only a few tens of metres away from the proposed development site to the west.
You may remember that the Society currently has a Consent from English Heritage to undertake an exhumation excavation within the Scheduled Monument Area, to remove 120 years of industrial overburden from this wonderful Site. Our Project's bio-anthropologist has already identified in situ Human Remains within Worth's extant site. At no time do we contemplate removing original cave deposits. Indeed, we do not have the Consent to do so. We are aware of the current limitations of technology in retrieving palaeo-environmental data from in situ deposits. It is scientifically important that NOTHING of archaeological value is removed from either the Ancient Monument itself or the contextual surrounding environment. Our task in hand is to evaluate, protect and conserve the full extent of such deposits and NOT TO HAVE THEM REMOVED, which would compromise the scientific integrity and value of the remaining undisturbed deposits. Cattedown does not need more of its archaeological treasures removed and certainly not for the development of a concrete-block manufacturing plant! All such deposits need a great period of time in situ to be studied. Once they are removed from context - that is it forever! If this common-sense scientific practicality appears to go against "common institutionalised wisdom" about how such things should be done, then please regard us as rebels!!!!! We would defend our stance in Court if needs be.

We desperately need your help to protect and develop this unique piece of our nation's and Europe's Human Heritage. We do not need our beleaguered and hapless City Council and a third-rate minerals company to be further encouraged to remove this heritage. We protest most strongly at the contents of the attached letter, which we find to be contrary to the philosophy of the protection of our Nation's Human Heritage.

This letter is written in good faith and for the support and continuing scientific viability of SM29678. This Ancient Monument needs as much support as we can muster on its behalf. We would very much welcome a confirmation that English Heritage also positively supports the future existence of SM29678 rather than promoting the further degradation of its limited contextual archaeological resources and the reduction of its scientific value.

We await your considered reply.

Yours most sincerely ...."

On 11 May, we tried to contact English Heritage by telephone in an attempt to prompt a response to our enquiry. The Officer concerned was not available.
On 15 May, we received an initial acknowledgement from English Heritage about the e-mail detailed above. We now await a considered reply.
On 07 June 2007, we continue to wait for a full reply from English Heritage.
On 12 June, we finally made telephone contact with EH but failed to agree on matters of "interpretation". 

PLYMOUTH CITY COUNCIL PLANNING AUTHORITY, PLANNING APPLICATION DETAILS :-
Planning Application Number 06/01181/FUL
Site Address :  Land at Shapter's Way, Cattedown, Plymouth.
Description :  Concrete batching plant with associated offices and ancillary works.
Applicant Name & Address :  Hanson Quarry Products Europe Ltd., The Ridge, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol BS37 6AY.
Agent Name & Address :  Hanson Aggregates, Trusham Quarry, Newton Abbot, TQ13 0NX.
Ward:  [no written entry here]
Case Officer :  Jon Fox.
Listed Building Grade :  [no written entry here]
Departure from Local Plan :  No.
Appeal :  No.
Major Development :  No.
Application Status :  Valid.
Decision Level :  Delegated
Date Received :  17 July 2006.
Date Valid :  17 July 2006.
Target Date :  11 September 2006.
Start Public Consultation :  25 July 2006.
End Public Consultation :  15 August 2006.
Committee Date :  27 July 2006.

Additional on-line documentation relating to this Planning Application,
available only via the Plymouth City Council "Planning Online" Webpages :-
-..Planning Application Form (.pdf 237 kb), published on-line 04 Sep 2006...[Hanson Group to PCC.]
-..Plans and Drawings: Block Plan (.pdf 576 kb), published on-line 04 Sep 2006...[Hanson Group to PCC.]
-..Plans and Drawings: Plans (.pdf 1416 kb), published on-line 04 Sep 2006...[Hanson Group to PCC.]
-..Plans and Drawings: Plans (.pdf 976 kb), published on-line 04 Sep 2006...[Hanson Group to PCC.]
-..Planning Application: Supporting Information (.pdf 757 kb), published on-line 04 Sep 2006...[Hanson Group to PCC.]
-..Planning Application: Supporting Information (.pdf 1289 kb), published on-line 04 Sep 2006...[Wessex Archaeology to Hanson Group to PCC.]
-..Plans and Drawings: Amended Plans (vr1) (.pdf 321 kb), published on-line 12 Jan 2007...[Hanson Group to PCC.]
-..Plans and Drawings: Amended Plans (vr1) (.pdf 281 kb), published on-line 12 Jan 2007...[Hanson Group to PCC.]
-..Planning Application: Supporting Information (.pdf 31 kb), published on-line 12 Jan 2007...[Wessex Archaeology to Hanson Group to PCC.]
-..Planning Application: Consultation Response (.pdf 64 kb), published on-line 14 Mar 2007...[English Heritage to PCC.]
-..Planning Application: Consultation Response (.pdf 52 kb), published on-line 18 Apr 2007...[English Heritage to PCC.]

We note that Plymouth City Council Planning Department have failed to make available one other Additional Document provided by Wessex Archaeology to Hanson Group to PCC.

When these documents are removed from the PCC Planning Online Webpages, they will continue to be stored by and available directly from the Society.
Relevant documentation not available in the Public Domain is also held by the Society.

Post-planning Application Period :
When a decision is made by the Planning Authority about this Application, it is interesting to note that if the decision is rejected, Hanson Quarry Products Europe Ltd., as the "developer", will have an automatic Right of Appeal.
However, we have been advised that if the Application is successful, we (as registered objectors on behalf of the Cattedown Heritage), have no such automatic Right of Appeal. However, there would be other lines of legal intervention open for us to pursue for a limited period of time after the decision.

[More to follow]

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