English Heritage is to ask four consortia which are battling to design, build and operate a new visitor centre at Stonehenge to present their full bid details next week. And Edward Cullinan and Partners, which won the original eh-run competition to develop a centre seven years ago, is still in the running in one of those teams.
He originally asked Cullinan to step in and become its architectural advisor on the job, but he refused, saying that he was working with one of the bidders instead. The advisor's job will now fall to John McAslan.
The whole notion of where to site the visitor centre has been a long- running sore for the conservation agency, and has proved almost as controversial as the various methods of road tunnelling, public access and preservation of the stones proposed over the years.
The favoured site for the centre is now Countess East, just north of the Countess roundabout and east of the famous circle of stones. The idea is to develop a visitor centre there and use a park-and-ride system to ferry visitors to the stones themselves.
eh said that following the 9 November presentation of details by the consortia, it will choose a winner early in the new year. Creation of the centre will tie into a plan rubber-stamped by the government last year to re-route the A303 road within a cut-and-cover tunnel. This would protect the Stones from what culture minister Chris Smith calls 'twentieth- century intrusion'.
Outgoing chairman Sir Jocelyn Stevens, who has taken the issue of Stonehenge as a personal crusade, will continue in his role as chairman of the Stonehenge Executive Group, which reports to Smith, after stepping down from eh next March. Stevens once famously branded the current visitor facilities at Stonehenge 'a national disgrace.'