Highways England’s (HE) plans for the tunnel due to be built as part of the £1.6bn (US$2.2bn) upgrade of the A303 near Stonehenge have gone on public display today (February 8).
HE’s plans for the entire improved A303 route between Amesbury and Berwick Down in the UK will also go on show at a series of public events starting tomorrow (Feb 9). The public consultation will run until April 6 and outline for the first time initial designs for the scheme and how it will restore the tranquil environment and setting of the monument and surrounding landscape by removing the sight and sound of the road.
Since the last consultation in September 2017, HE has continued to work with heritage groups such as the National Trust, Historic England and English Heritage, as well as experts in the field, including the Stonehenge Scientific Committee (a body of leading independent archaeologists), to ensure a new route is built sensitively to the World Heritage Site.
The route has been carefully chosen to avoid ancient monuments and barrow groups, as well as avoiding any intrusion on views of the winter solstice from Stonehenge and reconnect the World Heritage Site, which is currently split by the A303.
The agency is now seeking feedback from the public to help shape the scheme further before they submit an application for a Development Consent Order. The A303 upgrade is one of five multi-million-pound road schemes aimed at boosting the economy, tourism and heritage in the South West, which will all reach key milestones in the first six months of this year.
These include consultations on the:
A358 Taunton to Southfields dualing scheme;
A303 Sparkford to Ilchester;
A30 Chiverton to Carland Cross; and
A417 Missing Link scheme.
HE’s chief executive, Jim O’Sullivan, said, “These upgrades in the South West will improve millions of journeys. Each of these milestones in the region is evidence of Highways England delivering major infrastructure upgrades for the whole country.”
Statutory consultation for the A303 Stonehenge scheme will offer the public and all interested parties the chance to see the progressed plans, including visualizations of how the new route might look, including the Winterbourne Stoke bypass and initial designs for the junctions along the route.
Following public consultation in early 2017, and further engagement with local communities, heritage groups, archaeologists, historians and engineers, the preferred route was chosen so that the route now closely follows the existing A303 through the World Heritage Site. A total of 14 public consultation events will offer people the chance to see and discuss the proposals with members of the project team.