Councillors have reiterated their opposition to plans for housing on a site of national historic significance, despite a surprise suggestion they should support the scheme.
Mrs Sue Rodgers told colleagues on Southwell Town Council’s planning committee that the archaeology at the former Church Street site of The Minster School was better left in the ground, and she proposed they support the application for homes.
Caunton Properties Ltd wants to build 29 homes on the site, where excavations have found nationally important Roman remains.
The planning committee previously unanimously objected to the suggested housing, and discussed the matter again because of amendments to the planning application.
Mrs Rodgers, a member of Nottinghamshire County Council’s archaeology team, said she did not believe the site should be excavated further.
“As far as I’m concerned archaeology is much safer left in the ground than it is dug up and any archaeology is the destruction of the layers built up over time.
“What the developer is planning would significantly protect the remains and all the buildings put up would have very detailed archaeological mitigation against them, and if anything was found then building would stop.
“Much as we would all like to see archaeologists in there over the next 20 years carefully digging away to see what’s down there I think it is safer where it is.
“It’s going to go completely against the grain but I propose we support the application.”
Mrs Rodgers said the town should be concentrating on tracking down archaeology that was excavated in 1959 and had been lost over the years.
Mr Roger Dobson said the council should again submit its very strong objections.
He said: “The area is totally unsuitable for housing as it is in an outstanding area of heritage surrounded by outstanding heritage with the minster, the archbishops’ palace and the prebendal houses.”
He thought more of the site should be excavated to possibly reveal more about the link between the Roman occupation of Southwell and the building of the minster.
He said: “Why should we leave a story that is capable, with more archaeology over the years, of being told.
Mr Peter Harris said if the plans were for land near any other cathedral in any other area they would be immediately rejected.
Mrs Lyn Harris said she accepted the archaeology would be safer in the ground, but was concerned if houses were built the archaeology could be disturbed by home-owners building small extensions or conservatories.
Mrs Kate Ashworth thought it would be more pleasant to maintain the land as an open space.
Newark and Sherwood District Council will decide the application.