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Stonehenge Visitor Centre in the balance as traffic costs spiral

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The future of Denton Corker Marshall's proposed Stonehenge Visitor Centre looks increasingly bleak after the government announced it is to investigate the spiralling costs of the project's traffic plans.

The success of the £35 million scheme hinges on approval from the Department Transport for a 1.3-mile tunnel next to the historic site.

However, a survey by the Highways Agency has revealed that the estimated cost of tunnelling through the Wiltshire chalk has rocketed from £284 million to more than £470 million.

As result the government has decided to carry out a 'detailed review of the options' and will consult with both English Heritage and The National Trust before deciding whether to bring the curtain down on the project.

Roads minister Stephen Ladyman said: 'The increase in scheme costs represents a significant change to the basis on which the government originally decided to progress this scheme.

'Our recognition of the importance of Stonehenge as a World Heritage Site remains unchanged but given the scale of the cost increase we have to re-examine whether the scheme still represents value for money and if it remains the best option for delivering the desired improvements.'

The move leaves the plans for the single-storey, 5,000m 2'Gateway to Stonehenge' building hanging in the balance.

The Australian-based architects originally won the contest to design the centre back in March 2001 after seeing off competition from Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Birds Porchmouth Rossum, Michael Hopkins and Partners, MVRDV and Studio Granda.

by Richard Waite

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