Business chief says Eden Project North’s Morecambe Prom car ban ‘not aimed at locals’

Car-free zone plan for Eden Project North, Cartoon by Jack Knight
Car-free zone plan for Eden Project North, Cartoon by Jack Knight

A Morecambe business chief has described Eden Project North’s proposals to close Marine Road Central to traffic as a “big ambition”.

John O’Neill, manager of Morecambe Business Improvement District (BID), also said that the electrification of the railway line between Lancaster and Morecambe is “a must”, and that Eden’s road transport plans are “aimed at Eden visitors, not locals”.

John O'Neill

John O'Neill

“It’s not the intention of Eden to stop residents accessing the shops or their own houses,” he said.

Mr O’Neill was referring to our story last week, which was based on ideas and proposals made by Eden Project North in its scoping document submitted to Lancaster City Council.

Eden Project North said that the principle of pedestrianisation is “fundamental” to its plan, although details of where and how this would be achieved are yet to be decided.

Part of Eden Project North’s scoping document included proposals for the “pedestrianisation of the prom”, with a map of Morecambe showing the project’s “area of interest” between Morecambe Town Hall and the Midland Hotel.

Eden Project North's Area of Interest

Eden Project North's Area of Interest

But Mr O’Neill, who is also commercial manager at Lancaster and District Chamber of Commerce, said: “Last week’s announcement of the scoping document from the Eden Project threw local social media into a tizz about the ambitions to close Marine Road in Morecambe to fossil fuel vehicles from Lord St to Central Drive.

“Unfortunately, many people jumped on the “closure” as gospel rather than understanding it was just a “big ambition.”

“This shows how deeply ingrained cars have become in our lives, even though they have been around for less than 120 years.

“I am no anti-car zealot (I spent ten years working in the car industry, and still a petrolhead), but I have really cut down on my car use, and use my bikes to get around.

An artist's impression of Eden Project North, a proposed new attraction for Morecambe . Credit: Grimshaw Architects

An artist's impression of Eden Project North, a proposed new attraction for Morecambe . Credit: Grimshaw Architects

“In a metropolitan area I know I can survive without my car so much so that I am considering getting rid of it for good; the cost savings alone will be worth it, even if I have to hire a car sometimes.

“I know it’s different for rural communities, and that’s a challenge for our transport planners.

“The Eden project is causing us to look at local transport and movement in a whole new light.

“To meet our future carbon commitments electrification of the whole rail network, including the Morecambe line, is a must.

Si Bellamy, from the Eden Project North team, addresses the audience at the launch of the Bay Tourism Association 2019 Visitor Guide at the Midland Hotel, Morecambe

Si Bellamy, from the Eden Project North team, addresses the audience at the launch of the Bay Tourism Association 2019 Visitor Guide at the Midland Hotel, Morecambe

“A clockface timetable (at least two trains hourly, and on Sundays) to Morecambe and Heysham would also be a great leap towards relieving stress on the local road networks.

“Lancashire County Council is working on its overarching traffic plan for the whole region, and it’s a great chance to reshape our transport policies, and priorities, moving towards the 22nd Century.

“Connectivity is the key, including more joined up and safer cycle and pedestrian routes.

“This district has the ability to be a leader in future transport and energy initiatives; we just need to embrace the challenges as opportunities.”

A spokesman for Eden Project North told the Lancaster Guardian and Morecambe Visitor following the release of the scoping document: “This scoping report sets the parameters for the potential impact of Eden Project North and are the starting point for conversations about how we can best proceed with our vision for this project.

“The principle of pedestrianisation is fundamental to Eden Project North’s transport plan, as it results in cleaner air, increased physical activity, more time spent outside and reduced noise pollution. However, details of where and how this will be implemented are still to be decided.

“We will work in consultation with Lancashire County Council, Lancaster City Council, the local community and relevant stakeholders on a transport plan that works for the people of Morecambe, Eden Project North and the environment.”

The Eden Project North site at the former Bubbles and Dome site next to the Midland Hotel include will be designed to accommodate up to a million people per year, but is expected to attract around 760,000, with a daily capacity of 4,000 people

Here’s what you said about proposals to close Morecambe Prom:

Aaron Campbell - It’ll look like a ghost town if they just pedestrianise it, there won’t be enough foot traffic to need it. This Eden project will not make Morecambe into Blackpool overnight, there’s still so much that needs improving in the town, we’re talking years away. Frontierland, Winter Gardens, Arndale centre are all still a mess. I went into the Arndale centre a few months ago for the first time in about 4 years and the amount of closed shops just depressed me. Give them a reason to come first before incentivising reduced car traffic, otherwise it’s the locals that will pay the price.

Mark Palamountain - This road closure was suggested over 25 years ago. It didn’t get approved due to volume of traffic going north from Heysham. The bypass negates all that. Always think that is a great space in front of Midland, Station, Winter Gardens, when it is closed off for Vintage festival. Great space for festivals etc

Russell Clark - good luck, great opportunity to differentiate the town from places like Blackpool

Gaz Lloyd - Morecambe needs to change completely why not no cars why not become a town with a difference. Why do people look for problems before planning is put in and open for people to look at . Just get on with the change let’s get Morecambe great and different.

Paul Hughes-Stainsby - Close marine road and run cars down the new prom... But seriously... Close it from aldi to Northumberland st, queen street at a push.. but town hall? Geez. I back the Eden project but don’t shove locals out

Soo Law - We’ve got a pedestrianised area, it’s been there for years, it’s called the promenade! It’s not that long since a fortune was spent flattening the lovely gardens and narrowing the road to make car parks!

Rob Fleetwood - This will mean all promenade traffic will be directed through the centre of Morecambe. Total smog traffic carnage!

Tracy Rimmer - As the old saying goes “YOU HAVE TO BREAK SOME EGGS TO MAKE AN OMELETTE”. We have to think of the future for the town and the young ones who will benefit from this amazing development in their grown up years ... I am sure deliveries/customers etc will
be covered in the plans of the closure....

Deb Soper - I’m all for the Eden project and regeneration of Morecambe, but has any thought been given to local businesses along the prom? How will we be able to take deliveries? It’s challenging enough as it is now - will provisions be put in place to take this into consideration? Much as I would like to, I can’t walk or cycle to work every day; I have fairly heavy things to carry and need access to nearby parking. Public transport is not an option.


Mandy Jane Blackwell - this is all GEARED to young people and families but what about the elderly and the dis-abled amongst us. Disgraceful