An Ancient Monument which is home to the most important archaeological site of its kind in the UK could find itself within 500 metres of a major potato merchant operation.
An application has been submitted to Scarborough Council to redevelop land owned by James Stockdale Ltd at Star Carr Farm as the business looks to relocate its entire operation to the site.
The proposal includes the installation of a new fuel tank, the relocation of a workshop, a new concrete paved area for vehicle washing, new off-street parking, and installation of electronic security gates.
If approved the industrial operation will sit directly next the Star Carr Mesolithic archaeological site, which has been dubbed by experts as being as important to the Mesolithic period as Stonehenge is to the Neolithic period.
The site has been studied since 1948, and received more than £1 million of funding last year for further investigations. It is home to Britain’s earliest surviving house dating back to 9,000 BC.
As a result archaeologists have advised that prior to any decision by the planning committee a report needs to be produced that evaluates the proposals, and whether any harm could be caused to the below-ground archaeological deposits if the scheme were to receive consent.
North Yorkshire Archaeological Service states that while the proposed development site is 500 metres from the Ancient Monument site at the closest point, investigations carried out have come “significantly closer”. It says as further investigations take place, the area where finds are being made is expanding.
Dr Nicky Milner, an archaeologist from the University York, who has been studying the site, described what has been found there: “What we have here is a massive site, we have structures and we have a timber platform on the edge of what would have been a lake. This suggests that people were living here for quite a long period, for generations, in a large group.”
Before the significance of the site had been uncovered, it was approved in 2006 for use by James Stockdale Ltd, which also operates a site in Seamer.
Owners of the business say they want to relocate their operation onto one site, and looked at a number of options with the aim to locate the building in a manner that would sit well with buildings on site and not encroach into the countryside.
The application, which is due to be considered by councillors this afternoon, is being recommended by planning officers for approval, subject to the protection of the archaeological site.
Planning manager Jill Low said: “Since the approval and establishment of the yard in 2006, there have been significant improvements in the knowledge about archaeology in the wider area.
“This is a significant change since 2006, when archaeology was considered, but not felt to be such a significant issue at that time in this location.
“However, in light of the advice given by technical consultees, the agents have been asked to provide a report in line with the requirements of North Yorkshire Archeological Service. English Heritage have also been consulted, and it is hoped that a response will be forthcoming in time for the meeting.
“The recommendation is for approval; however this is subject to all matters relating to archaeology being satisfactorily dealt with.”