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Denton Corker Marshall's Stonehenge saga continues

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Denton Corker Marshall's long-awaited and highly controversial planned new visitor centre at Stonehenge is to face yet another public inquiry.

Secretary of State Ruth Kelly has called in English Heritage's (EH's) £65 million low-rise scheme, which had only last month been given the green light by Salisbury District Council.

The move is the latest twist in a 15-year saga surrounding the proposals and follows a series of disappointments and delays including planning refusals and rows over a proposed road tunnel under the site.

According to a government statement, Kelly decided to take the matter out of the council's hands because she 'considers that the proposals raise issues of more than local importance, having regard to their relationship both to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and to the government's proposals for upgrading the A303'.

As a result, the timetable for the project has been left in tatters. The council has not yet been given a date for the inquiry, which is expected to rack up further costs - including an additional outlay for EH, which has already shelled out nearly £9 million on the planning process so far.

Disappointed council leader Richard Britton said: 'It is unfortunate that this issue is to be the subject of yet another public enquiry. We had hoped that by making our approval subject to a number of conditions, the issue would have been resolved.

'[We] will prepare our case carefully and present the inspector with a clearly argued justification as to why we believe that the application should be granted, subject to conditions and a legal agreement.'

He added: 'However, we are extremely concerned with the further financial burden this inquiry will place on the council. The expense involved with such a process could be very significant indeed.'

Denton Corker Marshall was unavailable for comment.

by Richard Waite

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