Wiltshire Council demanded that English Heritage produce plans; “demonstrating how pedestrians .. can access the Stones without having ... to walk within the route used by the Visitor Transit System to the east side of Byway 12.”
English Heritage responded to Wiltshire Council by producing plans that show; “When walkers reach the intersection where A344 meets Byway 12 they will be required to cross the Byway and then cross the entrance to the bus turning circle east of Byway 12”
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How having to cross the entrance of the turning circle fulfils the requirement that pedestrians don’t have to walk within the route of the buses is not explained.
Planning permission for the work to improve the Visitor Transit System at Stonehenge depends on English Heritage meeting certain conditions before work commences. The work has commenced.
Condition 4 is that a revised layout of the pedestrian access at the stones end of the transit system is agreed with Wiltshire Council. The original plans had pedestrians having to cross the A344 to the west of Byway 12. This was unacceptable and the requirement is that pedestrians should have access “without having to cross the A344 or to walk within the route used by the Visitor Transit System to the east side of Byway 12”, but the revised plans show they will have to.
And the reason is “there is not enough space on the southern VTS platform area to accommodate the loading of passengers on the bus and walkers coming from the west.”
And the reason there isn’t room is because the plans are for the “existing post and wire stock proof fence (to be) relocated 3m further north east to be located to rear of platform edge kerb”. Of course if you narrow the path by 3m the space is restricted. All they have done is moved the unacceptable crossing point of the A344 a few yards eastwards. This does not meet the conditions.
There is also no mention in these plans, that I can see, of the permissive path that will continue down the A344.
This revised plan should not be agreed to by Wiltshire Council.
Details from the planning documents below.
STONEHENGE VISITOR ENHANCEMENT PROJECT – COACH PARK APPLICATION FOR APPROVAL OF DETAILS RESERVED BY CONDITION (REF No: 16/03988/FUL Dated 25/07/2016)
Notwithstanding the submitted drawings showing the proposals for directing pedestrian arrivals in the vicinity of the A344 junction with Byway 12, prior to the commencement of the development hereby approved further details shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority demonstrating how pedestrians using the signed and lined route on the southern side of the A344 can access the Stones without having to cross the A344 or to walk within the route used by the Visitor Transit System to the east side of Byway 12. The approved details shall be implemented before the proposed bus turning arrangements are brought into effect. Reason: In the interests of highway and visitor pedestrian safety.
The revised plans are:
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8.1 PEDESTRIANS AND CYCLISTS ON THE A344
8.1.1 New Monument VTS Platform Arrangements
18.104.22.168 The new monument VTS platform arrangements mean that upon arrival from the Visitor Centre, visitors will alight on the northern side of the platform and walk to the monument on the pavement. When the vehicle is empty it will move to the southern platform to load passengers wishing to go back to the Visitor Centre and these passengers will be queued on the southern pavement. There will not be room to accommodate visitors travelling in different directions.
22.214.171.124 As a result of this layout people visiting the stones on foot along the A344 will cross Byway 12 and then cross the entrance to the bus turning circle east of Byway 12 to access the monument field . This is because there is not enough space on the southern VTS platform area to accommodate the loading of passengers on the bus and walkers coming from the west. Visitors wishing to walk back to the Visitor Centre will walk along the southern platform and then cross Byway 12 onto the A344 designated pedestrian route.
126.96.36.199 Encouraging walkers to approach the monument field through the landscape (as indicated on the plan) is in line with the strategy for the World Heritage Site where visitors are encouraged to explore the landscape visiting significant landscape features including Fargo Wood and the Cursus Barrows. The National Trust and English Heritage have worked together to create a series of interpretation panels in the landscape to encourage this behaviour.
188.8.131.52 English Heritage would like to remove as many walkers as possible from the A344, at the earliest point, to encourage exploration of the landscape and remove the risk of pedestrians and vehicles mixing on the A344 altogether.