Big thumbs up for Morecambe Eden Project North plans


October 21, 2019

Around 1200 people have visited two public events to find out about plans for a major new 'Eden Project North' attraction in Morecambe - with the overwhelming majority giving their support.

The team planning to bring the Eden Project North to the town spoke to residents at the Winter Gardens on Friday and Saturday.

Afterwards Si Bellamy, head of Eden Project International, said the response was positive "almost without exception".

Further drop in events will be held today at Stanley's Youth and Community Centre in the West End, and tomorrow at Bare Village Club (both from noon to 8pm).

People are welcome to go along, ask questions and find out about the plans.

This came as a leading minister also backed the plans and said there was "a strong economic case to bring the Eden Project to Morecambe".

Jake Berry, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, was speaking in the Commons during a debate on Thursday where our two local MPs, David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) and Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) lobbied in favour of the project.

The government is being asked to pay £40-50m of the £101m needed to build the new facility.

Speaking during the debate, Mr Morris said it was "critical" that funding was made available in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn budget.

Also speaking during the debate, Ms Smith said: "Eden Project North has the potential to transform not only the Morecambe Bay area but also the whole of the north west economy."

To date, a total of £1.1m has been pledged towards the project by the main four partners who support the plans - Lancaster City Council, Lancashire County Council, Lancaster University and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership. This total included £100,000 from the Chancellor's last Budget.

Mr Morris said the partners had also pledged £2.3m in additional funding to enable a planning application to go in by spring 2020.

Mr Bellamy said the minister's support was "huge".

"It gives confidence to the people of Morecambe that this is going to happen," said Mr Bellamy, speaking to Beyond Radio at Saturday's drop in event.

"It's been good to see political parties work together as this shows that the Eden Project North can unite people.

"We're very positive about seeking government support. We know there's a strong case for investment because for every £1 that's invested in the project, £4.20 will come back to the local economy."

Mr Bellamy said his team had been "bowled over by the support" of local people over the past two days.

"There have been huge amounts of responses from people saying 'yes we want this to happen' virtually without exception.

"The main thing that people are concerned about is traffic. We've been looking at reducing cars and how public transport can be used. There was a sense that we might be creating big car parks but that's not the case."

The Eden Project is based in Cornwall and is a huge ecological tourist attraction for the area.

A similar centre is being planned on Morecambe seafront themed around the natural beauty of Morecambe Bay, which could attract 760,000 visitors per year.

If the project gets planning approval and funding, it could open by 2023 and could include a 4,000 capacity concert arena for live events.