In September 2010 two Road Orders were advertised: for stopping up the A344 from the A303/A344 junction to the Stonehenge visitor centre; and for stopping up the B3086 at Airman’s Corner in order to create a new roundabout on the west side of the WHS. Since the road changes were to be inextricably linked to implementation of planning permission granted for the new visitor centre, the Stonehenge Alliance objected to the Orders on the grounds that they objected to the visitor centre proposals.
The National Transport Casework Team, located with the Government Office for the North East, indicated that it would be helpful for English Heritage to meet with us and other objectors to try to resolve our differences. English Heritage’s Stonehenge Project Director and Stonehenge Project Manager, together with its Halcrow representative, met with three Stonehenge Alliance representatives on 9 December. Although we explained that we would like to see closure of the A344/A303 junction, we could not accept the damaging proposals for the new visitor centre and a well-lit roundabout close by as a trade off: such proposals would be contrary to HMG’s commitments in respect of the World Heritage Convention, as well as planning policy. We agreed, however, to consult our member organisations on the matter.
We were informed by English Heritage at our meeting that should an Inquiry into the Road Orders be decided upon, it would be unlikely to take place before August 2011.
Following the withdrawal of £10m Government funding for the Stonehenge project, English Heritage made a successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for that sum in the autumn of 2010. We wrote in advance to the HLF raising our concerns about the project with its Trustees but these were disregarded.
The HLF grant prompted an article in The Times (19 November) by David Brown, in which attention was drawn to opposition to the visitor centre proposals and better ways of using HLF funding. A letter in that paper of the same date, from Clive Aslet, was heavily critical of the new visitor centre design and location. A further article, Is Stonehenge the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Waterloo?, by Marcus Binney, President of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, appeared in The Times on 20 November, again severely critical of the visitor centre scheme and of the HLF’s grant aid for it.
Kate Fielden, Stonehenge Alliance