Edward Cullinan Architects and Sidell Gibson among firms shortlisted to design, build and operate PFI centre.
Five consortia are in the race to develop a private finance initiative visitor centre at Stonehenge in Wiltshire.

A consortium led by Edward Cullinan Architects and another including Sidell Gibson and exhibition specialist Event Communications are among the five shortlisted from a longlist of seven on 13 September. They were due to present their plans to 10 archaeologists this week.

A spokesperson for English Heritage said: “We have invited all the serious bidders to provide more developed concepts.”

The successful consortium will design, build, finance and operate the centre at Countess East, just outside the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

The consortia comprise developers, architects, design companies and specialist firms that will operate the attraction. The visitor centre scheme must include an interactive visitor attraction, education, retail and catering facilities and a park-and-ride service to the stones.

The teams will now consult with English Heritage, the British Council for Archaeology, Wiltshire County Council, Salisbury District Council, local residents and the “keepers of the plain” – a mixture of the National Trust and private landowners.

It is understood that English Heritage is buying land around Stonehenge to return the environment to its natural state. English Heritage will vet the team’s landscaping proposals.

The competition is the latest episode in the long and troubled history of redevelopment plans for Stonehenge. A plan drawn up by Edward Cullinan Architects for Tussauds Group was refused £22m of Millennium Commission funding in June 1997. The new centre is part of a masterplan that includes a £130m scheme to reroute the A303 through a 2 km tunnel, to start on site in 2005.

The five teams must submit final proposals for the visitor centre by November and a winner will be chosen by January 2000.