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20 September 2004
Stonehenge centre plans unveiled

Plans for a 67.5m visitors' centre, which will help rejuvenate facilities at Stonehenge, have been unveiled. The proposals, submitted by English Heritage, are for a single-storey building two miles from the stones. Around 750,000 people visit Stonehenge each year, but the site's facilities have been slammed by critics who have called them "a national disgrace".
     Sir Neil Cossons, chairman of English Heritage, said: "Until now, we have let our ancestors down. This will return the dignity of Stonehenge." He added: "If successful, this planning application will allow us to remove the worst excesses of the modern day and create a seamless downland landscape."
     The proposed new centre is the product of three years' work by English Heritage. It will be built just outside the World Heritage site and will contain exhibitions, educational facilities and a cafe. The single-storey visitor building, situated just outside the World Heritage Site, will 'disappear into the landscape'. It will be constructed from a series of galvanised steel plates with a grassed roof. A new land train will take visitors on a 25-minute journey from the centre to the stones, via a series of drop-off points across the site. The plans have been submitted to Salisbury District Council and a decision is expected in 2005. "At last, it looks as if the millions of people who come to visit Stonehenge from all over the world will receive the inspiring and uplifting experience that they expect and the stones deserve," said Sir Neil.
     A public inquiry was held earlier this year into a separate 193m scheme, which would see the busy A303 re-routed away from the Stonehenge site through a tunnel. The findings of that inquiry are being examined by an independent planning inspector. A report from the inspector will be used by the government to decide whether the plans get the go-ahead.

Sources: BBC News (15 September 2004), Western Daily Press (16 September 2004)

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