CONTROVERSIAL plans to extend the coach park at Stonehenge are going before councillors on Thursday at the Southern Area Planning Committee.

The existing coach park has 30 coach bays but English Heritage wants to double the provision by creating an additional 26 space coach park and pedestrian route close by.

It says the creation of the coach park would just be for two years after which time the proposed works would be "fully reversible" and the land returned to its existing state.

The plans, which would see coaches sharing the same access and exit routes as the existing coach park, have prompted six letters in support of the application and 29 letters against.

Those in favour include VisitWiltshire, which says the current coach parking facilities are inadequate, and coach travel company CIE Tours International, which says the current situation is "an accident waiting to happen" with its customers being put at "great risk" as they have to walk behind and in front of moving vehicles.

Objections include traffic congestion, the visual impact on the surrounding area and fears over what will happen following the two-year temporary period.

The application is being considered just a couple of weeks after plans for an overflow car park at the historical site were rejected by Wiltshire councillors because of its appearance and lack of landscaping.

English Heritage says the aim of the coach park extension is not to encourage additional visitors to Stonehenge but "better manage" the current numbers already visiting the site.

It argues that when coaches see there are no spaces in which to park, they drop their passengers before leaving the site to park elsewhere and then returning for collections "thus doubling the number of journeys taken on the local road network".

It adds that, while coaches that have not pre-booked are turned away, problems occur when miss their pre-booked slot and end up arriving in bulk.

Wiltshire Council planning officers are recommending the application be approved subject to conditions that include the land being restored to its former condition before April 9, 2017.

It states the reason for the condition is so that a "permanent and sustainable solution" can be found to coach parking at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre.

Thursday's Southern Area Planning Committee meeting takes place at Salisbury's City Hall at 6pm.