Stonehenge site revamp starts

Work begins to improve landscape at world heritage site after plans and funding are agreed.

Work on one of Britain's highest-profile landscapes, Stonehenge, is at last ready to roll after nearly 30 years of stalling.

The long-held vision to transform the prehistoric site into a more peaceful setting, improve landscapes and build a visitor centre went ahead last week after all but £500,000 of the £27m cost was raised by English Heritage.

Landscape architect Chris Blandford Associates is to sculpt land around a hyper-modern building designed by Denton Corker Marshall in a project that has rumbled on for decades and seen designs and designers come and go.

Vinci Construction UK is leading work at the Airman's Corner site, 2.5km west of the stones. The Highways Agency will start grading a nearby road in September and landscaping will knit the scheme together in a low-key but expansive design with a shuttle drop-off point and viewing areas.

A section of road that currently runs past the monument will be closed and grassed over, reuniting the stone circle with its ancient processional way and the surrounding landscape. The project is due for completion in summer 2014.

The scheme is financed almost entirely by Heritage Lottery Fund money, commercial income and philanthropic donations from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Linbury Trust and the Wolfson Foundation.

English Heritage chief executive Dr Simon Thurley said: "We finally have a scheme for the setting of the stones. Restoration of the landscape and a new building will finally give our most famous monument the treatment it deserves."

Ministerial view - John Penrose, Heritage and tourism Minister

"People have been talking about the project for nearly 30 years and so I'm delighted that work is finally underway to preserve this internationally recognisable prehistoric world heritage site."

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