Three recent examples of public benefit following archaeological discoveries in London are presented, alongside an explanation of the policy context that supports them. The examples are provided from the perspective of planning archaeologists, who advise decision makers and developers on managing archaeological sites in compliance with local and national policy. The cases illustrate ad hoc public benefits secured following surprise discoveries at an excavation in Tottenham, as well as long-term benefits resulting from staged investigation and negotiation of two Elizabethan playhouses in Shoreditch and Aldgate. We discuss issues around encouraging and operating permanent visitor attractions and how to best secure the benefits deriving from those places through the UK planning system. We suggest some ways for this young field to develop further.