Government funding now main aim after Morecambe’s Eden Project North is granted planning permission
The latest milestone for the Morecambe project comes following years of development and extensive community consultation, leading to the submission of the planning application in September last year.
Eden has submitted a business case to the UK Government, asking for a £70m public investment in the £125m project. The business case shows that this investment would be paid back many times over in economic benefit for the region.
Eden Project North would directly employ more than 400 people, with an additional 1,500 jobs supported in the region, and inject £200m per year into the North West economy. Subject to funding being secured, it is due to open in 2024.
Eden Project North is being delivered by the team behind the first Eden Project in Cornwall, alongside local partners Lancaster University, Lancaster City Council, Lancashire County Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, and is one of the key projects in Eden’s plans to expand around the UK and the world.
David Harland, chief executive of Eden Project International, said: “Planning permission is a huge milestone on our journey towards making Eden Project North an exemplar project for Morecambe, Lancashire and the north of England.
“The project is now definitively shovel-ready and a compelling financial case has been made to Government. We are primed and ready to create this beacon to a green and sustainable future, be part of Levelling Up and drive economic and social enhancements across the region.
“While we are incredibly proud of what we and our partners have achieved so far, we now need UK government support to quickly bring this to fruition and maintain momentum.
“We’re hugely grateful to the Lancaster City Council planners for granting this landmark project planning permission. Massive thanks must also go to our partners and the community in the region for supporting us throughout the consultation process. We continue to be inspired by the wellspring of positivity we get from the people of Morecambe.”
Coun Caroline Jackson, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “Eden Project North promises to be the most significant project in our district for a generation. It will provide huge benefits to our economy through a commitment to local purchasing and creation of good local jobs, as well as shining a light on sustainable regeneration.
“The granting of planning permission is a major milestone in the project and all that remains now is for the Government to show the same commitment and provide the necessary funding to make it a reality.”
County Coun Phillippa Williamson, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "This is an important milestone for Eden Project North. Planning permission brings the project one step closer to reality and delivering all the transformational benefits for Morecambe, Lancashire, and the North West region.
"The county council, Eden and partners are committed to delivering the project and it is really encouraging to reach this point. The local community are hugely welcoming of the project and their unwavering support in reaching this stage should not be underestimated.
"These are exciting times. The county council and the other partners remain focused on securing the financial investment the project needs, so we can deliver Eden Project North for Morecambe, Lancashire and the region."
Debbie Francis OBE, chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: ''It is fantastic news that Eden Project North has obtained planning permission and I am delighted that the LEP was able to contribute £1.2m of Growth Deal funding to enable the project to progress to this stage.
''The benefits to both the local and regional economies, in terms of direct employment opportunities and indirectly within supply chains are significant and have the potential to achieve transformational change within some of our key sectors.
“Whilst the economic gains are clear, we cannot underestimate the social, environmental and educational benefits of this project, which is why the LEP is committed to working with Eden and partners to secure the funding to ensure Eden Project North becomes a reality.''
Prof Dame Sue Black, Pro-Vice Chancellor Engagement at Lancaster University, said: “Lancaster University believes Eden Project North will be transformational for both the economic and social development of Morecambe and the wider region, whilst contributing to our commitment to sustainability.
“In granting planning permission today, the committee has given a green light for this exciting project to continue its journey towards becoming a reality. The level of public support for Eden Project North is unsurpassed and the local community will be delighted that the project has reached this milestone decision, which recognises the enormous potential it brings.”
David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, said: “I am delighted that planning has been granted for Eden Project North - a hugely significant milestone for the project and an exciting day for Morecambe.
“With planning accepted, the Eden Project in Morecambe has now reached the final stage of the process and the financial ask to Government. I have been meeting with Ministers for quite some time now and we are in the advanced stages of securing a funding package to allow the project to start being built.
“Planning being granted gives this funding ask greater precedence and I look forward to being able to make a further announcement shortly on the work I have been doing with Ministers behind the scenes.”
Rachel McQueen, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire, said: "Having been part of the initial discussions around the idea of an Eden North, located in Morecambe, we are delighted with today's planning decision.
“It is a major step towards the realisation of this transformational project for Morecambe especially, but also for the wider county that will benefit from such a major new attraction.
“The vision of Eden North, with the right investment, will bring new prosperity to Morecambe, with more jobs, commercial opportunities and a brighter future for the young people in the area.
“We look forward to continuing our relationship with Eden and to helping this become a reality."
The Eden Project North planning application illustrated the vision for the Morecambe project, which has been heralded as a major new exemplar attraction. Eden Project North will showcase sustainable design, reimagining the British seaside resort for the 21st century.
Eden Project North’s “shell like” domes will be constructed in timber and covered in a flexible transparent membrane with integrated solar cells. These four shells – known as the Rhythm Machine, the Bay Glade, the Bay Hall and the Natural Observatory – are set in a “dunescape” of landscaped roofing planted with coastal vegetation.
The layout of the domes has evolved since the early stages of design and they now surround the central Four Seasons Garden, to make better use of the available space and light while providing more sheltered public space.
Surrounding the buildings will be a collection of beautiful outdoor gardens, designed to reflect the flora, geology and rhythms of their unique coastal environment. These include the Rhythm Garden, which reimagines the existing Bay Arena and the Tide Garden, whose beds spiral down towards a tidal pool at the garden’s centre.
Public access to the promenade running around the edge of the Eden site will not be affected and access to some outdoor gardens will also be possible without buying an admission ticket. RNLI access will also be unaffected.
Eden Project North will be situated on the former site of the Bubbles leisure complex with the Grade II* listed Winter Gardens and Midland Hotel its near neighbours. The project has been designed in a way which is sensitive and complementary to these important buildings and sightlines across the bay.
The project will have two restaurants, one on either side of the site, with both featuring indoor and outdoor seating and boasting spectacular views across Morecambe Bay.
Visitor flow will be managed with timed ticketing slots and combined travel and admission tickets. Incentives will be offered for those who arrive by walking, cycling or public transport.
Visitors who chose to arrive by car will be required to pre-book spaces either in existing car parks in Morecambe or at the park and ride service at junction 34 of the M6 to prevent congestion. Eden will continue to engage with and support the local community and other interested parties regarding future transport plans.
Eden’s ambition is for the construction and operations of Eden Project North to go beyond net zero carbon emissions and achieve a net positive environmental position.
The submission of the planning application followed a formal consultation incorporating an online exhibition and in-person events. Feedback from the online consultation was overwhelmingly positive, revealing that 97 per cent of respondents were in support of Eden Project North with 94 per cent agreeing that the benefits will be felt throughout Morecambe and the wider area.
When asked if they supported the general design principles and approach for Eden Project North, 97 per cent of respondents said yes while 88 per cent supported the overall approach to the transport strategy.
Eden has committed to working with local stakeholder groups to formulate ticket concessions for local people, similar to the local’s pass and annual memberships offered by the Eden Project in Cornwall. School visits, educational programming and youth schemes will also be a major part of the Eden Project North offer, as they are in Cornwall.