Earlier this year the Government announced plans to upgrade a seven-mile single carriageway stretch of the A303 near Stonehenge in Wiltshire into a dual carriageway. The single carriageway section of the A303 currently runs alongside the stones and the Government’s proposed option is “to construct a 1.8 mile dual carriageway tunnel to improve journey times, remove the sight and sound of traffic and enhance the world heritage site”. A Stonehenge consultation process was  launched, which ran until 5th March, to give the public the opportunity to comment on the proposals.

The options submitted for the consultation envisaged an eastern portal just to the east of the point where the current A303 cuts across the Avenue and a western portal to the southwest of the Normanton Down Barrow Group which was well south of the current A303 and so would have involved a length of new dual carriageway within the World Heritage Site. CBA Wessex, together with numerous other archaeological bodies, expressed their opposition to the proposed scheme because of the location of the proposed tunnel portals, especially the western portal, and the introduction of a significant length of dual carriageway into the World Heritage Site.  In addition the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO also expressed concern that the proposals would adversely affect the OUV (Outstanding Universal Value) of the World Heritage Site and urged the government to explore further options including the southern surface route or a longer tunnel that would remove any dual carriageway from the World Heritage Site.

The government has now responded to the significant public feed back, from over 9,000 individuals and organisations, and has announced a “preferred route” which involves a similar length tunnel but with the western portal moved north to a position just south of the existing A303 and the surface route running between The Diamond and the Winterbourne Stoke barrow group before crossing the A360 to join a new roundabout to the west of the current Longbarrow Roundabout. This “preferred route” will then bypass Winterbourne Stoke to the north.

This is obviously a significant improvement on the previous proposals and we will study it in detail before making any further comments. Further consultation on the details of the route will take place in 2018 but in the meantime the public will be able to view details of this new proposal, including copies of the preferred route booklet, and meet members of the Highways England project team at the drop-in sessions at :-

The Manor Barn, High Street, Winterbourne Stoke, SP3 4SZ

Friday 29th September  from 2pm to 8pm

Antrobus House, 39 Salisbury Road, Amesbury, SP4 7HH

Friday 22nd September from 2pm to 8pm

Saturday 23rd September from 11am to 5pm