Stonehenge and the Stonehenge Environmental Improvements Project
Improvements to the roads around and facilities at Stonehenge have been discussed for decades with a number of proposals being made over this time. Archaeogeomancy’s Paul Cripps, whilst working for English Heritage (EH) and Wessex Archaeology (WA), has worked on many of these projects including SEIP over nearly a decade and a half, including cartographic and GIS elements of the production of Management Plans and Research Frameworks, the undertaking of Condition Surveys using mobile GIS and supporting the Stonehenge Curatorial Team through technical advice during the 2004 Public inquiry into the A303 road scheme.
For SEIP, Paul took a lead role in designing and implementing the GIS based heritage analyses for the visual impact assessments undertaken by WA and CBA for EH. The aim of these analyses was to assess potential impacts of the proposed visitor centre and transit system options on heritage assets across the World Heritage Site and formed part of the overall Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Analysis undertaken for various stages within the SEIP included probabilistic modelling of patterns of visibility associated with a number of proposed sites for the visitor centre itself, various transit schemes, car and coach park options and well as potential ameliorative effects of proposed tree planting and other screening techniques over time. Following scoping studies, more detailed work was then undertaken on the Airman’s Corner site using drawings provided by the architects, Denton Corker Marshall (DCM). Analytical work made use of high resolution LiDAR based terrain models, derived from Environment Agency datasets and specially commissioned new LiDAR surveys.
The RTPI Planning Excellence Award
The winning of this award by CBA recognises the quality of the project and the key role played by CBA in delivering for EH and managing the countless partners, contractors and sub-contractors who each played vital parts in the project.
Dominic Watkins, one of the directors at CBA, said of the award:
“I am delighted that the Stonehenge Environmental Improvements Project has received this Award for Planning Excellence in the RTPI’s centenary year. The accolade reflects our team’s dedication and commitment to helping English Heritage and its partners realise the long-held vision of creating a more tranquil, uncluttered landscape setting for the Stonehenge monument, and providing first-class visitor facilities, worthy of the World Heritage Site.”
The award scheme judges were reported as saying:
The judges felt that this was an outstanding scheme and the clear winner. The project had to find a sustainable and endurable solution to a long running and controversial issue. There was clearly a good initial analysis and then a thorough understanding and evaluation of competing views, allowing an appropriate balance to be struck between the many different local and international interests.
Removing the road and so reuniting Stonehenge with its Salisbury Plain landscape was, the judges felt, a particular achievement, demonstrating that the project is an effective and imaginative solution from both a planning and a landscape perspective
Whilst the new visitor facilities have not been without their critics and things may not have run as smoothly as perhaps could have been hoped for since the opening, the new facilities and removal of the road next to the stones is certainly a marked improvement over what was there previously; congratulations to CBA and EH for delivering these improvements through the award winning SEIP and many years of hard work. No doubt there will be more improvements to come as the A303 road scheme past Stonehenge is once again back on the government agenda.