Commercial: Sunset Waltham Cross Studios
Client: Sunset London Prop Co


Sunset Waltham Cross Studios is a consented world class studio complex comprising of a modern studio campus of 21 sound stages with ancillary workshops, offices and amenities on junction 25 of the M25. The site occupies part of the former James I’s Theobalds Deer Park of Theobalds Palace.

The scheme was taken from the design stages through to planning permission and the start of construction in approximately 12 months – an extremely challenging planning application timetable.

Orion Heritage was appointed by Sunset London Prop Co to undertake the archaeological assessment for the planning application and the management of the mitigation excavations.


Orion produced an archaeological desk-based assessment and the archaeological chapter of the Environmental Statement for the planning application. This work established that the site had the potential to contain prehistoric remains as well as relict garden and water features of the former Theobalds Palace parkland.

Evaluation trenching revealed an area of Medieval remains and former garden features. In consultation with Hertfordshire County Council and Historic England, Orion agreed, procured and managed a very targeted, cost and time effective archaeological mitigation excavation strategy aimed at maximising the archaeological value of the investigation. These works were implemented ahead of the granting of planning permission so as to enable the ground works for the development to commence within days of planning permission being granted.


Our pragmatic & cost-effective approach to the project enabled the delivery of a high-quality archaeological investigation within a vitally important very tight timetable, leading to the partial discharge of the planning condition within days of permission being granted.

This work is ongoing with a final limited piece of archaeological mitigation being undertaken following the resolution of some ecological constraints in part of the site. Once this last element of work has been completed, the archaeological planning condition will be discharged in full.

Strategic Land: Sherford New Town, Devon
Client: Sherford Consortium (Vistry Homes & Taylor Wimpey)


Sherford new town is a major consented residential scheme for 5,500 homes, community facilities, a new primary school, and extensive country park. Lying to the east of Plymouth, Sherford is located in an area of high archaeological potential.

Orion was appointed toward the end of the construction of phase one of the scheme to agree a new approach to the extensive archaeological mitigation works required ahead of the construction of each phase of the new town. This has included taking over the management of the post-excavation work from major archaeological excavations that were undertaken prior to Orion’s involvement.


Orion undertook informed negotiations with Devon County Council to agree a pragmatic, fresh approach to the evaluation and excavation of the outstanding parts of phase one and the remaining five phases of the new town.

The team formulated and agreed a detailed site-wide Written Scheme of Investigation covering all future archaeological investigations.

To date, Orion has procured and managed the archaeological evaluation and excavation of three phases of the development and the new Business Park on behalf of the Consortium, ensuring a cost-effective programme of works. This has involved the assessment of archaeologically sensitive areas of Sherford’s large Country Park to ensure remains are preserved and excavation costs are avoided.

In 2021, internationally important Ice Age animal remains, including woolly mammoth, woolly rhino, wolf and hyena, were unexpectedly encountered during construction works. Working closely with the Consortium, the development project managers, Devon County Council and Historic England, Orion swiftly put together and managed an expert team of leading Pleistocene academics and specialist field archaeologists to devise and implement a detailed investigation programme of the Ice Age remains.

Due to the nature and location of the remains, this was a technically and logistically challenging project which required a creative and responsive problem-solving approach to deliver a timely and high-quality archaeological investigation.


Expertise and pragmatism from the Orion team enabled a cost-effective and time-sensitive approach to the considerable challenge posed by archaeology. The delivery of meticulous investigations has ensured long-term preservation of the Ice Age remains as well as minimising disruption to the development.

Working closely with the Consortium’s PR advisers and The Box, Plymouth, Orion played a key part in the publicity of this Ice Age discovery, including national and international media and talks at local schools.

Orion continues to work with the Consortium to run the archaeological mitigation excavations required prior to each new phase of the town ahead of construction, as well as managing the large post-excavation programme that the previous and forthcoming investigations require.

Regeneration: Port of Liverpool Building
Client: Amtrak Real Estate


The grade II listed Port of Liverpool building is one of the city’s most recognisable historic buildings. Together with the grade II listed Cunard Building and the grade I listed Royal Liver Building, these buildings are known as the “Three Graces”, epitomising the commercial prowess and international prestige of Liverpool.

The refurbishment and upgrade of the Port of Liverpool building to provide high-quality office space came with the dual challenge of meeting current standards and regulations while ensuring the historic fabric and character of the building could be preserved and respected.


The specialist team undertook a detailed physical analysis of the existing building fabric and extensive research into its original design, composition and historical evolution. This insight underpinned the proposals for refurbishment and reconfiguration of the building’s interior spaces.

A comprehensive heritage statement was prepared for submission alongside the planning and listed building applications. This dealt responsively with both the direct impacts to the building and the wider heritage resource.

Our knowledgeable and pragmatic approach enabled effective problem-solving in relation to the adaptation of the building and its heritage requirements.


The meticulous approach to understanding the significance of the various aspects of the building’s fabric, together with direction on the appropriate level of informative detail in submission documents, secured the approval of the scheme with minimal additional information required post-submission in respect of heritage matters.

Regularisation of Consent: De Lacy Cottage, Frampton on Severn
Client: Private Individual


The client came to us with a number of challenges at De Lacy Cottage, a grade II listed building they had recently purchased in Frampton on Severn.

Prior to Orion’s involvement, previous construction work had not been completed with the approved planning and listed building consents and an inspection by the Conservation Officer had resulted in the client being served an enforcement order to correct matters.

The scope of the enforcement requirements was reduced in a partially successful appeal but significant work was still needed. The client also wished to make further alterations to the property.

These works needed to be assessed to ensure the significance of the building would be preserved. Situated in the Frampton on Severn Conservation Area, the proposals also needed to be responsive to particular local planning requirements for character and appearance.


The Orion team prepared a statement of significance, meticulously analysing the existing fabric of the building and the extent of previous unauthorised works. This was used to problem-solve with the local authority to confidently identify what could be regulated by retrospective planning and listed building consent, and what would require remediation and new consents.

New consents and heritage statements were drafted, incorporating the client’s proposals for new alterations, and specifying any potential impacts on the conservation area.


The retrospective and additional consents were unanimously approved by the Conservation Officer and the local planning authority, with the approach outlined by our specialist team satisfying the heritage constraints of the listed building whilst accommodating additional client requirements.

Housing: Millstone Park, Burwell, Cambridgeshire
Client: This LandTM


Millstone Park is a consented 350-house scheme with a sports hub, and countryside park.

Prior to Orion’s involvement, the evaluation that had been undertaken for original outline application had revealed two areas of Bronze Age archaeological remains. Planning permission had been granted with an archaeological condition requiring a programme of mitigation excavation works.

Orion Heritage was appointed by This LandTM to organise and manage the archaeological excavations required prior to construction commencing.


Orion undertook negotiations with Cambridgeshire County Council to agree a timely and cost-effective approach to the mitigation investigations required to discharge the archaeological planning condition.

Following this, Orion procured and managed the archaeological excavations. The excavations revealed an early Neolithic funerary monument with a single posthole believed to represent a grave marker/totem pole and a large unenclosed Late Bronze Age settlement comprising pits, post-built structures and burials.

The Late Bronze Age settlement at Burwell is one of the largest and best-preserved examples in the region and its rich assemblages of artefacts and ecofacts will aid in answering a number of the period’s regional research questions.


Our pragmatic & cost-effective approach to the project, and close partnership working with Oxford Archaeology East (our appointed contractor), Cambridgeshire County Council and our client, enabled the delivery of a high-quality archaeological investigation within budget and on time, leading to the discharge of the planning condition.

Working with our appointed archaeological contractor and This LandTM, a series of successful public open days were hosted, with high levels of attendance from the local community, along with site visits from the Parish Council and This Land’s Board.

Built Heritage: Former British Sugar HQ, Sugar Way, Peterborough
Client: British Sugar


The 1970s building, which formed part of the wider former British Sugar headquarters was spot listed for its architectural and historic interest by Historic England in 2019.

Orion was instructed to review the listing documentation within the 28-day consultation period and to prepare a detailed statement of significance as part of a submission to delist the heritage asset.


Orion undertook a meticulous review of the building, including detailed fabric analysis and comparative analysis with other notable commerce buildings dating from the mid-late 20th century.

Orion’s statement of significance assessment established that the building did not warrant its listing designation due to its diminished nature. The rigorous assessment also established that the building was not considered to be of such pioneering technological merit in national terms nor as an early example of a commerce building typology.


Orion’s built heritage expertise and thorough assessment resulted in the building being delisted by the Secretary of State in July 2019 and removed from the statutory list of listed buildings. This enabled the proposed and consented Lidl store and 74 dwellings to be constructed.

Education: Brighton Metropolitan College
Client: Chichester College Group


Brighton Metropolitan College wished to consolidate its campus into a single building, involving a new build extension, refurbishment and the creation of a new entrance to the college with a large outdoor plaza including bike storage and open public space.

Located close to two Brighton city centre conservation areas and a number of listed buildings, the college is also partially within an Archaeological Notification Area which signifies the potential to contain Roman burials, prehistoric and medieval remains.


Orion undertook a meticulous built heritage assessment of the potential effects of the proposed extension and public plaza on the heritage significance of the nearby Conservation Areas and listed buildings.

This assessment informed Orion’s heritage input to the design and siting of the scheme to minimise the visual impact on the settings of the conservation areas that adjoin the site, mitigating or reducing harm to these heritage assets.

Orion also produced a detailed assessment of the potential impacts of the scheme on archaeological remains. This rigorous research established that there was a theoretical potential for late prehistoric / Roman remains in the southern part of the site, where a Roman cemetery was recorded, and clarified that the proposed layout of the College extension avoided impacts on this archaeology.


Our exacting approach to assessment and expert input on heritage design led to planning permission being granted, with no archaeological conditions. The east wing College extension scheme has now been constructed and is in use.

Critically, the College has tried to redevelop this campus for over 15 years, each time their previous proposals have met viability challenges. Working together with a fantastic team, including ESE Architecture & Planning, Orion have assisted with the delivery of much needed improvements to teaching and learning facilities.

Urban Regeneration: The Brentford Project
Client: Ballymore & London Borough of Hounslow


The Brentford Project is a consented urban regeneration scheme comprising 876 homes, 50 retail units, arts centre and health club. The development occupies a large part of the historic core of Brentford.

Located on the main Roman road west from London to Silchester, Brentford developed as a Roman town and subsequent Saxon settlement and Medieval & Post-Medieval town. Consequently, The Brentford Project is located in an area of high archaeological potential.

After years of consulting on the project, Orion was appointed to manage the archaeological works required to the discharge of the archaeological conditions on the hybrid consent.


This project required an informed and collaborative approach to heritage management to meet its ambitions.

Orion’s specialist team worked with Historic England to agree the right approach to evaluation and mitigation investigations. From here, Orion procured and managed a detailed research programme. This included an enhanced desk-based assessment of Brentford, an assessment of the historic buildings within the site & the wider Brentford townscape and the enhancement of the Brentford area of the Greater London Historic Environment Record.

This detailed research informed the approach that Orion’s team employed in procuring and managing the archaeological and geoarchaeological evaluation and mitigation investigation of development site.

Part of the development comprised the grade II* listed Church of St Lawrence and its graveyard. Orion provided archaeological input to the design and reserved matters planning application and expertly managed the legal process with the Ministry of Justice and Department of Levelling Up, Homes and Communities to agree the archaeologically-led exhumation and reinterment of burials from areas of disturbance.

Sensitive and timely collaboration with Ballymore, Historic England, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Bishop of London and other interested parties was essential to the success of this work.

This project also involved an ambitious public outreach programme which was delivered under Orion’s professional management during varying Covid restrictions during 2020 and 2021.


Our informed and collaborative approach to the project enabled the delivery of a complex archaeological programme within a challenging construction schedule.

We continue to work with Ballymore to run the archaeological mitigation excavations required for phase two of the scheme, the management of the post-excavation programme and the final publication of results of the excavation in the coming years.

Strategic Land: South Marston, Swindon North Eastern Villages
Client: Hallam Land Management, Taylor Wimpey and Hannick Homes


South Marston is a major, consented residential scheme for 2,380 homes, community facilities, a new primary school, and abundant green space. It forms the northern part of the Swindon North Eastern Villages expansion area, located in an area of high archaeological potential. After years of consulting on the project, Orion was appointed to undertake a heritage assessment and heritage Environmental Statement chapter for the outline planning application and then the discharge of the archaeological conditions on the outline consent.


Orion undertook a desk-based assessment, geophysical surveys, and several phases of archaeological evaluations to establish the possible impact of the scheme. Rigorous evaluation identified the presence of multiple historic settlements and features, including Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman. On our expert advice, the scheme layout was devised to exclude most of the large historic settlement to reduce both the potential impact on the remains and the cost of excavation. Our assessment also showed that there would be no negative effect on nearby listed buildings.

We formulated and agreed a site-wide outline archaeological mitigation strategy, which was written into the archaeological planning conditions. After planning permission was granted, we devised and agreed a thorough site-wide Written Scheme of Investigation and an outline archaeological management plan for the archaeological remains to be preserved in the open space of the scheme.


Our informed, pragmatic and cost-effective approach to the project enabled the development to accommodate the considerable challenge posed by archaeology. This led to planning permission being granted with archaeological conditions including further investigation, management of archaeology that is being preserved and a programme of public outreach.

We continue to work with the clients to run the archaeological mitigation excavations required prior to preparing the site for the first stage of development. This will be followed in the coming years by the procurement and management of further archaeological investigations ahead of construction in the subsequent phases of the development.

Renewable Energy: Bloy’s Grove Solar Farm, Swainsthorpe, Norfolk
Client: Engena & EDF Renewables UK


Bloy’s Grove is a consented 49.9MW solar farm. The site lies amidst rolling Norfolk countryside with the potential for archaeological remains and in the vicinity of a number of listed buildings and Conservation Areas. Orion Heritage was appointed by EDF Renewables UK via Engena, planning consultants for the scheme to undertake a heritage assessment and heritage Environmental Statement chapter for the planning application.


Orion undertook a historic environment desk-based assessment followed by geophysical survey of the site to establish the possible impact of the scheme. The rigorous research identified the presence of a Medieval settlement in part of the site and a number of kilns elsewhere. On our expert advice, the scheme layout was revised to exclude the area of former Medieval settlement to reduce the potential impact on archaeological remains. Additionally, our assessment identified only minor potential impact on a nearby grade II* listed church and grade II hall, which were considered to equate to less than substantial harm.


Our pragmatic approach to the project and professional recommendations enabled the solar farm to gain planning permission, with a condition requiring a programme of further archaeological evaluation. The District Council accepted that there would be minimal impact on the listed properties nearby and would be significantly outweighed by the public benefits of the development. Orion is currently working with the client on the specialist archaeological works required to discharge the archaeology planning condition.