A303 Stonehenge

1 of 9 schemes Highways England plans along the A303, A358 and A30 to create a world-class Expressway to link the south west and south east of England.

Region:  South West
Start date:  TBC
Cost:  ÂŁ1.6 billion
Status:  PLANNED
Type:  Major Scheme
End date:  TBC

Progress report

On 12 September 2017 the Secretary of State for Transport announced the preferred route for dualling the A303 past Stonehenge.

The 8 mile (13 kilometre) route, between Amesbury and Berwick Down in Wiltshire, includes a 1.8-mile tunnel inside the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site (WHS) past the Stones and a much-needed bypass to the north of Winterbourne Stoke.

We would like to thank everyone who helped influence this decision by contributing to our public consultation earlier in 2017. After carefully considering more than 9,000 responses, together with further assessments, we were able to improve the route before recommending it to the Government.

The most significant improvements were a change to the route through the western half of the WHS and to the location of the western tunnel portal. Both of these are now much closer to the line of the existing A303 than they were before the consultation.

The preferred route avoids many important archaeological sites, including newly-discovered barrows just to the east of the A360. The modified alignment also avoids any risk of the road intruding on the view of the setting sun from Stonehenge during the winter solstice.

Upgrading the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down into high quality dual carriageway will be good for the people and businesses of the South West and for the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site.

As well as improving journeys, easing congestion and eradicating localised rat-running, the tunnel will enhance the setting of Stonehenge by reconnecting it with its surrounding landscape and removing the sight and sound of traffic.

The project is also fundamental to the Government’s aim to make the A303 an Expressway to the South West.

Visit our consultation page for detailed information and documents about the preferred route and explaining how we took account of people’s views.

What’s next

We are now developing the preferred route into a more detailed proposal and you will have another chance to comment before we submit our final scheme for development consent. Our next round of consultation will be on our detailed proposals for the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down. It will be statutory consultation, which means it is required by the Planning Act 2008.

Your feedback from that consultation will allow us to make sure we have got the best scheme, or highlight where we still need to make changes, before we make our application for a Development Consent Order (DCO). View our handy guide to the planning process.

If all goes to plan, we aim to carry out the next round of consultation in early 2018 and would like to start building the new road in 2021.


Date Event
1989 Scheme enters Roads for Prosperity programme
1991 – 1993 Initial route identification
1993 Public consultation
1994 – 1995 Further route identification
1995 Planning Conference
1996 Scheme withdrawn from roads programme
1998 Scheme re-introduced to roads programme
1999 Preferred route announced
2002 2.1km bored tunnel announced
2004 Public inquiry
2005 Review of options after substantial increase in estimated costs
2007 Withdrawn from roads programme
2013 A303 feasibility study announced as part of the Autumn Statement
2014 Scheme included in the Roads Investment Strategy
2015-2016 route identification
12 January to 5 March 2017 Non-statutory consultation on route options
September 2017 Announcement of preferred route
Early 2018 Statutory consultation on proposed scheme
Late 2018 Submit planning application
2021 (TBC) Start on site

Community news

The Secretary of State for Transport announced the preferred route for the scheme in September 2017. More details, including all documents relating to the preferred route, can be found on the consultation page.

Come and see us

We are holding a series of public drop-in events where you can view the preferred route and talk to our project experts:

Location Date Time
The Manor Barn
High St, Winterbourne Stoke, SP3 4SZ
Saturday 16 September 2017 11am to 5pm
Antrobus House
39 Salisbury Rd, Amesbury, SP4 7HH
Friday 22 September 2017 2pm to 8pm
Antrobus House
39 Salisbury Rd, Amesbury, SP4 7HH
Saturday 23 September 2017 11am to 5pm
The Manor Barn
High St, Winterbourne Stoke, SP3 4SZ
Friday 29 September 2017 2pm to 8pm

As a local you may well have followed earlier versions of this scheme. Some of these will have had different approaches and processes, or been governed by older legislation. We have put together a clear guide to the planning process, outlining exactly what happens and when you get can get involved.

View our guide to the planning process

Why we need this scheme

The A303 is part of the UK’s strategic road network. Along with the A30 and the A358, it forms the most direct route between London and the South East and the South West. This road is vital for the local and regional economy of the South West.

Despite this importance, 35 miles of the route remains single carriageway. Poor transport links create the idea that the South West is a hard place to get to for a holiday or to do business. Bottlenecks through villages, changes in speed limit, hidden accesses and staggered junctions frustrate drivers by making journey times unreliable. The A303 also has a higher accident rate than other similar roads.

In a bid to avoid congestion and tailbacks past Stonehenge, drivers turn to the local side roads, which in turn become clogged, noisy and polluted rat runs. The traffic, noise and air pollution this causes affects the vitality of nearby villages, particularly Shrewton, Bulford, Durrington, Larkhill, Amesbury and Winterbourne Stoke, which the A303 slices right through.

Improving a major trunk road is never easy, and the A303 is particularly sensitive. Between Amesbury and Berwick Down, the road passes just 165 metres from Stonehenge, our most treasured prehistoric landmark.

Some 24,000 vehicles use the Amesbury to Berwick Down stretch of road every day, twice as much as the single carriageway was designed for. On a summer weekend the figure leaps to 29,000. The A303 can be seen and heard from the Stonehenge stone circle, cutting through the heart of the World Heritage Site.

We all want to see a solution that solves these problems and enhances the setting of the Stones. Previous efforts have stumbled over the best way to do this – and over the costs.

Now the Government has made money available to find the right solution. The different routes explored in the past gave us a large bank of knowledge to start from and we are confident we now have the best route.

This provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a new South West Expressway, where mile-a-minute travel is the norm – and restoring Stonehenge to a more tranquil setting and reconnecting it with its surrounding landscape and monuments.


There are many potential benefits to delivering an upgraded A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down.


A dual carriageway with grade-separated junctions and high standards of safety will improve journey times and safety, especially in summer. The new South West Expressway’s up-to-date technology will help manage traffic and provide information to drivers. Reducing the amount of traffic that diverts to the local road network around Shrewton, Larkhill, Bulford, Amesbury, Durrington and Winterbourne Stoke will be safer for local residents, cyclists and pedestrians.

Economic growth

Roads are the backbone of the UK economy. Improving journey times will help make the South West more competitive with the rest of the country. Shorter journey times cut transport costs, giving businesses better access to markets, suppliers and skills. In turn this will help make the region more productive and boost tourism. It will also give the South West’s growing population better access to more jobs and schools. Better connections will support the development of more homes.

Environment and community

The improved A303 will enhance biodiversity in the World Heritage Site and reduce the impact of congestion, noise and emissions on local communities. This area includes Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, a National Nature Reserve and an RSPB reserve, with a large variety of protected species. Through reducing rat-running traffic on local roads, reducing noise impacts and improving air quality, a free-flowing expressway will improve the vitality and safety of local villages.

Cultural heritage

The Stonehenge World Heritage Site is cut in two by the A303 at the moment and is spoiled by the sounds and sights of traffic. Placing much of the A303 in a tunnel will protect and enhance this important setting. As well as making Stonehenge easier to get to, the project will help people explore the rest of the World Heritage Site by reconnecting the northern and southern halves of the site.

As the project progresses, we will look for ways to enhance the environment wherever we can.

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