DCM’s Stonehenge project scrapped

Jun 18, 2010
  • Article by Online Editor
  • Architect Denton Corker Marshall

The UK Government has announced it is cancelling funding for 12 projects – including Denton Corker Marshall’s Stonehenge Visitor Centre – as part of a drive to reduce the country’s fiscal deficit.

The Labour Government had promised £10 million (AU$17m) towards the project in May 2009, but this funding has now been scrapped under the new coalition government.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, told MPs that he had “taken the decision to cancel certain projects that do not represent good value for money, and suspend others pending full consideration in the spending review.”

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport said projects were assessed “to determine whether they remain a Government priority, value for money, and affordable in the current economic climate”. He estimated that the cuts would save a combined £2 billion (AU$3.4bn).

DCM’s design for the visitor centre involved relocating visitor facilities further away from the heritage site, as well as diverting the road that runs close to the stones. It is the practice’s second concept design for the site – unveiled in 2009 after the initial 2007 designs were not granted approval.

English Heritage – who was part-funding the project – said it was “extremely disappointed” with the news. In a statement, it said: “Stonehenge is a project of global significance… Transforming the monument’s setting and the visitor experience is vital to Britain’s reputation, and to our tourism industry, especially in 2012 but also thereafter.”

John Penrose, Minister for Tourism and Heritage, said: “I recognise the disappointment everyone in the heritage community feels at today’s announcement. But I hope that they, and others, will understand why this has come about – the costs and benefits of this project had to be considered in the light of the current financial picture.

“We all have to accept trade-offs, but even though we can’t afford to fund the project today, it remains a priority for the future.”

English Heritage remained cautiously optimistic about the project. They are expected to make an announcement about the future of the project following a meeting with the Department for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport on 30 June.

As well as the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, the government has cut funding for a proposed British Film Institute (BFI) Film Centre. As well as the 12 projects that have been cancelled, a further 12 projects have been suspended, including DCM’s Birmingham Magistrates Court.

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