The Stonehenge Alliance has objected to an application by English Heritage for permission at Stonehenge Visitors Centre Airman’s Corner for:
- permanent use of the temporary coach park
- modification of existing coach park to create 53 coach spaces and 26 motorhome spaces
- construction of ancillary building for new coach visitor facilities
- change of use from agricultural land
- creation of extended visitor transit system turnaround area for shuttle bus use
- decommissioning of existing visitor transit system turnaround area
- associated ancillary and landscaping works
We are concerned for the impact on the World Heritage Site (WHS) and likely damage to its Outstanding Universal Value. Our objections are supported by
- Wiltshire Council’s Core Policy 59 (The Stonehenge, Avebury and associated sites World Heritage Site)
- the World Heritage Convention (Articles 1, 3, 4 and 5)
- the WHS Management Plan
- Visitor Centre Planning Conditions for sustainability and visitor management
- various reports and questions about potable water, sewage and the natural environment
We understand that English Heritage is faced with a serious management problem at Stonehenge, partly owing to insufficient scrutiny of previous proposals and partly to ad hoc measures to deal with problems as they arise. A temporary solution is needed but not one that generates further mistakes. We therefore hope that the Council will refuse this application and that the following should be required before its determination:
- An explanation of why the current application has been made despite not meeting planning consent Condition 5 and an account of what efforts are being made to meet that Condition by April 2017
- A fully explained and convincing visitor-transit system that builds in future increases in visitor numbers and safety measures for buses passing, and for pedestrians
- A full and up-to-date Green Travel Plan to include measures to ensure that visitor-arrivals are spread throughout the day rather than at peak times
- A comprehensive visitor management strategy
- Detailed explanation of the location and assurance of an uninterrupted potable water supply, including current and predicted usage, and evidence of having secured any necessary permits
- Detailed explanation of sewage and waste water disposal, including current and predicted measures, and evidence of having secured any necessary permits
- A fully detailed sustainability appraisal, to include discussion with ICOMOS-UK on archaeological and landscape issues
We also call on the applicant to undertake an Appropriate Assessment of the potential impacts of increased visitor numbers and run-off from the parking areas on the River Avon SAC (Special Area of Conservation) as part of the application.
We conclude our objection by drawing Wiltshire Council’s attention to the need for stakeholders to work together bearing in mind possible changes to the A303 and the proposed re-siting of the Artillery Museum, a major development nearby.
The Stonehenge Alliance objection can be read in full here.
Consultation can be found here and closes on 2 June 2016.