The £27.5 million project to provide better facilities at Stonehenge has received some welcome news after the Heritage Lottery Fund agreed to invest £10 million in demolishing the “woefully lacking” visitor centre at the site.
© English Heritage
The pledge matches the amount the government withdrew in the summer and includes provisions for a new visitor centre, transport links to education and café space a mile from the stones, training opportunities and a volunteering programme.
English Heritage had originally hoped to build the new centre in time for the 2012 Olympics, but fundraisers remain hopeful of completing the development by 2013 despite having their central funding cut.
“This investment will help transform this site and give people a much greater understanding of why Stonehenge is so significant,” promised Dame Jenny Abramsky, the Chair of the Fund, who said the stones “demonstrate the vital role heritage plays within the UK’s tourism industry.”
Dr Simon Thurley, the Chief Executive of English Heritage, said the body was “tremendously grateful” to the Fund.
“It helps to narrow the funding gap for the project considerably,” he added. “It also sends out a message of confidence about the transformational benefits that the project will bring to tourism, the local economy and the conservation and public enjoyment of Stonehenge and its landscape. “
The Airman’s Corner design was initially announced in May 2009, when former Culture Secretary Andy Burnham pledged to “get on with making it happen” for the benefit of the 900,000 people who head to Wiltshire every year.
“Stonehenge is one of the nation's most precious ancient monuments but the current facilities for visitors are woefully lacking,” said Fiona Reynolds, the Director-General of the National Trust.
“We're delighted by HLF's support and will continue working with English Heritage and other partners in delivering the much-needed improvements to the site."