Coming Soon: Thornborough Theme Park
(Well. Probably not.)
The man who created the Lightwater Valley theme park wants to turn the ancient Thornborough Henges into a tourist attraction.
Landowner Robert Staveley outlined his ideas at a public meeting called by West Tanfield Parish Council on Wednesday.
Mr Staveley said he aimed to create a car park and visitor centre, build a 'transport system' around the site and recreate the southernmost henge so visitors could see how it would have looked when it was built more than 5,000 years ago.
He said the henge mound would be covered in a membrane and earth added on top so as not to harm the archaeology.
"At the moment, when people come here they are so disappointed because there is so little there," he said.
He added his plans were at a very early stage and more discussion would need to take place.
George Chaplain, of heritage campaign group, TimeWatch, who was at Wednesday's meeting, said: "Mr Staveley's proposals were not quite as frightening as they could have been.
"But I am concerned about recreating the southern henge. I would like to see entry to Thornborough Henges remain free of charge – I worry he is looking at it purely from a commercial perspective."
Last week quarry firm Tarmac was refused planning permission to expand its current operations near the henges because of the importance of the site.
Commenting on Mr Staveley's tourism scheme, a spokesman for the firm said: "We see no conflict in principle between tourists visiting the henges and continuation of our quarry at Nosterfield with the useful employment it provides.
"Visitors already come to the Nosterfield Quarry visitor centre and viewing area which opened last year – it is free and is popular with birdwatchers and walkers."
03 March 2006
Posted by Rhiannon
3rd March 2006ce
Edited 3rd March 2006ce