English Heritage has confirmed it is to ignore the claims of Edward Cullinan Architects and advertise for a developer to come forward and build a new visitor centre at Stonehenge.
At a press conference held at MacCormac Jamieson Prichard's new jle station at Southwark last week, eh chief executive Sir Jocelyn Stevens told the aj that eh had decided not to build any structure on the World Heritage Site, and would use the site that it proposed in its failed Millennium bid last June - near Countess Roundabout. But although Edward Cullinan is still advising on architectural matters, and won a competition to design a visitor centre in October 1992, he will get no automatic right to design the new one.
Defending his decision to open up the job again to developers, Sir Jocelyn said, 'We never built anything.' The intention is to have a park-and-ride system from Countess Way, north-east of the stones, and drop off visitors from the bus link at Fargo North, less than a kilometre from the stones.
The history of attempting to sort out the thorny subject of Stonehenge is a long one, but at the press conference - called to celebrate eh's latest report and accounts and a new grants scheme - Sir Jocelyn and culture secretary Chris Smith both credited each other with making substantial advances on the issue during the last year. Sir Jocelyn said it was a 'miracle' that the government had finally agreed to dual the A303 and place it in a £125 million, 2km tunnel where it passes nearest the stones. It will also close the A304. But the bulldozers look some way off yet. Smith said that project would be in the detr's roads programme 'in a few years' time'.