English Heritage has unveiled the design for its proposed new Stonehenge visitor centre, after months of anticipation. The plans were revealed as a planning application for the complex was sent to Wiltshire Council for approval. Located at Airman’s Corner some 1.5 miles west of the landmark, the new centre will include exhibition space, a caf, shop and toilet facilities for the million-or-so people who flock to the ancient stones each year. It will comprise two single-storey buildings, one made from wood, the other glass, and a transit system will allow visitors to move to and from the centre.
Loraine Knowles, EH’s Stonehenge project director is confident the new centre will make Stonehenge a more attractive proposal for tourists. “The new centre is designed to blend into the World Heritage landscape,” she says, “which visitors will pass through on their way to the stones.It will provide enhanced opportunities for education and interpretation, and have first class facilities in keeping with Stonehenges status as a world-renowned tourist attraction.”
The visitor centre is part of long-awaited plans to purify the area surrounding Stonehenge, which include the removal of its current adjacent centre and the grassing over of the controversial A344 main road, which sees traffic run just metres from the monument. Wiltshire Council is seeking a Traffic Regulation Order, which would restrict the number of vehicles allowed on the road. Stephen Quinlan, of architects Denton Corker Marshall, says: ” If once back at home, a visitor can remember their visit to the stones but cant remember the visitor centre they passed through on the way, we will be happy.”
Stonehenge has barely been away from the headlines recently. Only last week the discovery of another stone circle, dubbed ‘Bluestonehenge‘, was made just a few miles away from its better known neighbour. Some experts believe the new site proffered some of Stonehenge’s famous bluestones, and could have been part of a cremation ritual across the area.
Don’t forget – if you want to see Stonehenge without travelling to Wiltshire, take a look at our very own Stonehenge Virtual, coming soon.