The government has today finally confirmed the new Stonehenge visitor centre, designed by Denton Corker Marshall (DCM), will be built just inside the edge of the world heritage site
After months of negotiations, it has been confirmed the £25 million scheme will be constructed on a plot known as Airman’s Corner which is about 1.5 miles west of the stones.
DCM landed the contest to design the new facility back in February – effectively for a second time following the demise of its original proposals in 2007 - seeing off Bennetts Associates and Edward Cullinan Architects in the process.
However neither a budget nor location site was ever confirmed and rumourmongers continued to speculate about whether the centre could still be built within the world heritage site at either Durrington Down Farm or Fargo.
Speaking today Architecture Minister Barbara Follett said: ‘Stonehenge is our most important and well recognised prehistoric site and, as such, is absolutely at the heart of our national history and heritage. Everyone agrees, however, that the way it is presented to visitors is far short of ideal.’
She added: ‘Consensus on how to improve visitor facilities has eluded stakeholders for far too long, and so I am delighted that we now have plans to move forward. There is still a long way to go, of course, but we now have to get on with making it happen’
The long-running visitor centre project, which has been rumbling since 1986, will be funded by English Heritage (EH), Heritage Lottery Fund, Highways Agency, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Transport.
At the same time as unveiling the site the government also announced it intends to close the A344 which currently takes traffic very close to the stones.
The move has delighted EH. The organisation’s chair Barry Cunliffe said: ‘Airman’s Corner had wide support and is the unanimous recommendation of the project team, supported by the major heritage groups and the landowners. I congratulate the government for making this decisive and timely move.
‘It is in the public interest for everyone who cares about Stonehenge and its conservation to be united in supporting this scheme and ensuring that the project is successfully delivered on time.’
The government still hope the centre can be built in time for London’s 2012 Olympics.