PLANS for the new Stonehenge visitor centre at Airman’s Corner were unveiled on Saturday and immediately condemned as “a missed opportunity”.

The proposed building “looks more like an immigration detention centre than a place where you feel part of something ancient and mystic”, said city and county councillor Paul Sample.

“The plans are an improvement on what is there at the moment,”he said.

“But the retention of 40 per cent of the current visitors’ facilities very close to the stones is a missed opportunity.

“The old visitors’ centre should be completely demolished and returned to sheep pasture.

“I am completely unconvinced by the argument that facilities like this have to be left for security staff. It is nothing less than a bunker, it should be razed to the ground.”

Cllr Sample said it was also a mistake to retain most of the A344 from Fargo Wood to Byway 12, calling it “a blot on this ancient landscape”.

“The banks, hedgerow, fencing and guttering on either side of the road should be removed and the ground should be levelled,” he said.

“As it is planned now, the view for new visitors as they approach Stonehenge by land train will be entirely dominated by this main road running into the middle distance. It is like drawing a big straight line with a marker pen across the face of the Mona Lisa. You will try to focus on the stones, but your eye will actually be drawn by the road way.”

However, a spokesman for English Heritage defended the plans.

"The public exhibitions are designed to introduce the outline proposals to the public, and for people to give their feedback which we welcome.

"We have contacted cllr Sample to arrange a meeting to ensure he is fully briefed on the proposals and the significant improvements they offer.

"It is incorrect to say 40 per cent of the current visitor centre facilities will be retained. One small building beneath ground level is being retained for the security staff who provide round-the-clock protection for the Stones.

"The concept plan for the visitor centre itself is designed for it to sit delicately on top of the landscape with minimal impact. We believe cllr Sample will be pleasantly sur prised when he sees the final plans.”

  • The plans will be on show at Stonehenge visitor car park on Thursday and Friday from 10am to 4pm, and at Shrewton Village Hall on Saturday from 9.30am to 1pm.