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24 January 2010
Stonehenge visitor centre finally approved

In the latest chapter in the 20 year-long saga surrounding the English Heritage-backed project, Wiltshire County Council approved the practice's £20 million proposals for the Airman's Corner site 2.5km west of Stonehenge. Plans for the closure of the A344 adjacent to the stones will now be submitted for approval.
     English Heritage has welcomed the recent decision by Wiltshire Council's planning committee to approve plans for a new visitor centre for Stonehenge. Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge project director for English Heritage, said: "This is an important step in returning Stonehenge to a more dignified setting and creating facilities more fitting for a world-renowned tourist attraction. We can now begin to look forward to providing a much improved, high quality experience for visitors at an environmentally sensitive development."
     With planning permission in place for the visitor centre, plans for the closure of the A344 adjacent to the Stones will now be put forward for approval. At the same time, Wiltshire Council will be consulting on proposals to restrict motorised vehicles on the remaining part of the A344 and on nearby Byways.
     Following a lengthy consultation and extensive technical assessments, the Prime Minister announced on 13 May last year that Airman's Corner would be the location for new Stonehenge visitor facilities. Together with proposals for the closure of the A344, the scheme will enhance the monument's setting by removing the existing visitor facilities (including car parking) and improving the visitor experience with new exhibition and education facilities. A fully accessible transit system will run from the new visitor centre to a drop-off near the Stones.
     Airman's Corner is about 1.5 miles (2.5km) west from Stonehenge, on the junction of the A344 and A360. It is at the edge of the World Heritage Site and is easily accessible by road. The land is currently used for farming, with very few residents living close to the site.

Sources: Andover Advertiser, The Architects' Journal (21 January 2010)

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