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6 November 2013
New Stonehenge visitor centre

The first of long overdue improvements to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site experience will be opened to the public on 18 December 2013. A new state of the art visitor centre, located approximately 2.1 km west of Stonehenge, will open its doors to the public on that day. Increased parking for 500 cars and 30 coaches will be provided at the new site.
     This is the first part of a £27 million Stonehenge Environmental Improvements Programme which will see the old visitor centre demolished and landscaped, and the controversial road, the A344, grassed over, to allow the re-connection of The Avenue to the Stones.
     The new visitor centre will incorporate many modern sustainable building techniques, utilising carbon free ground source heat pumps and grey water recycling. Inside the centre visitors will be able to experience a 360 degree virtual stones experience, and view artefacts from the area which have been brought together, back to their origins, from surrounding museums and the Duckworth Collection at the University of Cambridge. Further exhibitions will explore the debate over the origins and purpose of the Stones. The expansion to visitor experience has been long overdue and with an enhanced cafe and shop facility it is hoped that visitors will spend a longer and more enjoyable time exploring our heritage.
     The Stones will not actually be visible from the new centre and this will enhance their mystery as they will gradually emerge over the horizon as you approach on the 10 minute shuttle. English Heritage has also anticipated the increased number of visitors by introducing a timed ticket system, to avoid queues and overcrowding.
     Future stages of the re-development will include the construction of Neolithic houses (due in Easter 2014) and finalisation of the re-landscaping (summer of 2014). Hopefully we will now be able to experience the wonder that is Stonehenge in the setting in which it was first created.

Edited from Gazette and Herald (30 September 2013)

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