Inquiry into Stonehenge A344 closure plans

Stonehenge aerial view without A344 An aerial view of Stonehenge without the A344 road

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Plans to close the main road east of Stonehenge and return it to grass are being scrutinised at a public inquiry.

English Heritage wants to stop traffic from travelling close to the stones and "restore the dignity" of the World Heritage Site by closing the A344.

Those opposed include chief druid Arthur Pendragon who has argued that it would give English Heritage a monopoly on access to the site.

The inquiry in Salisbury, Wiltshire, begins on Wednesday.

In June 2010 Wiltshire Council granted planning permission for a new visitors centre at Airman's Corner, 1.5 miles (2km) west of Stonehenge.

Grassed over

Under the current scheme, the existing car park and visitor facilities at the stones will be removed and the area "returned to grass".

English Heritage has said it will be necessary to close the A344 between Stonehenge Bottom and Byway 12 and close part of the B3086.

A new roundabout will replace the current Airman's Corner junction to cope with the increased traffic caused by the road closures.

The Longbarow Roundabout on the A303 will also be improved.

English Heritage said it believed "everyone agrees that Stonehenge's landscape setting is severely compromised by the intrusion of roads and traffic".

Mr Pendragon said he was strongly opposed to the proposed traffic regulation order to restrict motorised vehicles on the remaining A344 west of Stonehenge and on two nearby byways.

He said: "We will not shrink from our responsibilities to ensure that future generations can enjoy the environs of Stonehenge and the World Heritage site without being excluded for fiscal reasons."

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