Councillors set to discuss visitor parking plans for Eden North in Morecambe
Around 400 car parking spaces in Morecambe town centre and a similar number at an M6 park and ride site could be earmarked for visitors to the new Eden North attraction, under an agreement to support the site’s planning approval and a separate bid for government funding.
A new ‘dynamic’ parking system for Eden visitors is suggested, spreading visitor parking between Morecambe and the Caton Road park and ride site near the M6’s junction 34.
This will be based on advanced pre-paid bookings and take into consideration the size of groups, vehicle types and other tourist information.
And visitors will be encouraged to spend time in Morecambe too.
Councillors on Lancaster City Council’s cabinet are due to discuss the ideas at their next meeting on Tuesday January 18.
The Eden Project North planning process began in September 2021. The operator is seeking full planning permission to demolish existing buildings on Morecambe sea front and build a major leisure development including an outdoor arena for live music, public spaces, landscaping works, cycle parking and other infrastructure.
A report for this month’s Lancaster City Council cabinet meeting sets out how the council and Eden North will progress contractual agreements for car parking locations and the operation of them, before the attraction opens to the public.
An arrangement called an ‘agreement in principle’ is needed to satisfy the city council’s planning department about the effectiveness of Eden North’s transport plans.
As a consequence, the general expectation that planning permission is looking likely should support Eden North’s business case for Government funding.
A report for the cabinet meeting states: “The proposal is currently considering the offer of around 400 car parking spaces out of the 1,800 council-owned spaces in Morecambe. Not all car parks need be turned over to Eden North for exclusive use.
“Current thinking is that car parking space will be made available as ‘shared use’ between Eden North visitors and other members of public, managed under an allocation system which would ensure a space is available for pre-paid Eden visitors.
“A key principle of the Eden transport strategy is to encourage people to arrive by other transport, particularly for the last mile of the journey. However, there is also a practical reality that, initially, many visitors will still seek to travel by car, particularly as external bodies such as the rail industry will take time to be able to provide more frequent services between Lancaster and Morecambe to respond to increased travel demand created by Eden North.
“The focus of the Eden parking strategy to intercept a significant proportion of vehicles using the county council operated M6 junction 34 park and ride, where there is current capacity. However, an element of parking in Morecambe town centre is also required to actively encourage visitors to spend time in Morecambe during their visit.
Within 500 metres of the Eden North site there are almost 2,200 parking spaces across city council and private car parks on a 1,056/1,112 split.
It is estimated that the maximum number of private vehicles travelling to Eden North on a peak day would be 850m to be accommodated between Morecambe town centre and the M6 park-and-ride.”
Due to different visitor arrival and departure times, the maximum parking space demand at any one time is likely to be between 530 and 590, the report adds.
There are financial considerations for the council too regarding parking fee income, the report adds.
It states: “This will be a complex area of operation and negotiation. And the final likely impact on the council’s income in comparison with the current use of Morecambe’s car parking spaces will need to be assessed.
"However, the assumption is that due to increased volumes, the final revenue position will be at least neutral or will positively impact on the council’s finances. A final contract will include an agreed charging schedule including pricing reviews to mitigate any financial risk.”
Regarding Lancaster City Council’s finances and income, the report adds: “Like most local authorities, the council is facing significant ongoing pressures, which have been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Although recent Government proposals may lessen this pressure, the council can expect reductions in both income and on its reserves.
“The Eden Project North represents an opportunity to deliver considerable social and economic benefits for Morecambe and the wider area. Associated growth, such as business rates and other income streams, will assist the council in becoming financial sustainable.”
Further decisions from the cabinet will be needed to finalise a contract with Eden North. Councillors will get more updates in future.
The cabinet meeting is at Morecambe Town Hall at 6pm.