2022 opening for Â£80m Eden Project North which would attract up to 8,000 people a day to Morecambe
The Eden Project North would open in autumn 2022 at a cost of Â£80m and attract up to 8,000 people a day to Morecambe - if planning and funding can be agreed.
Si Bellamy, head of Eden Project International, said he thought it was “vital” that the project became a reality, and urged everyone to get behind it.
He said: “We wouldn’t be stepping up to this in the way we have, and I wouldn’t be here now, if we felt it wasn’t achievable.”
Mr Bellamy spoke to business leaders, politicians, and leaders of arts, education and cultural organisations at the launch of “Place Lancaster” and the Lancaster Story this week.
The new project aims to give the Lancaster region a stronger and more competetive advantage by encouraging people to live, work, visit and invest in the area, and Morecambe’s Eden Project is considered crucial to this.
In an exclusive interview with The Visitor and Lancaster Guardian reporter Nick Lakin, Mr Bellamy said the whole Eden Project team is “incredibly excited” about bringing a new attraction to Morecambe.
He said: “Coming from Barry Island in South Wales, this place resonates with me.
“We’re really discriminatory in terms of how we select our projects, so to get to this stage in planning should say something about how serious we are.
“Eden Project North meets the criteria in terms of the Eden Project mission, and to have all of this come together with support from Lancaster University, the city and county councils, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and other bodies is really rare, but very welcome.”
He said that the project had been inundated with support, and he would now be using the next couple of months to take stock, “and then to plan, and then to do.”
He said: “2019 will be the year that this project really takes off.
“We’d hope to have full planning permission by 2020, and to be open in the third quarter of 2022.
“One of our aims is to connect people with eachother and the natural world, and it just makes so much sense to do it in Morecambe.
“It’s an incredible bay, and has the potential to become the most understood aquatic area and marine environment that we have.
“People feel intrinsically connected to the bay - Morecambe has a wonderful DNA.
“The very front line of climate change are coastal towns, where 17 per cent of the UK population live.
“We’re trying to accelerate conversations about why climate change is so important.
“Our project in Cornwall was about the connection between humans and plants, and Eden Project North is about our connection with the marine and aquatic environment.
“It will also be about health and wellbeing and that link to coastal communities, and how we can understand that better.
“This project is about participation, action and engagement, about people feeling better about where they live, and creating stronger communities.”
Mr Bellamy said he expected Eden Project North to attract up to 8,000 people a day at peak times, and felt that Morecambe’s infrastructure could handle this as demonstrated during festivals when tens of thousands of people descend on the resort.
“Part of the challenge is that we want people to think about changing their modes of transport, to really think through their journeys and the effect they have on the environment,” he said.
“We’re looking to work with Lancaster University, as well as Lancaster and Morecambe College, building skills and understanding.
“The future is ours to make, not to sit there and accept it.
“We’ve got to accellerate change, and to think about the things we do every day in small ways that can make big changes.
“This is achievable,” he said.
“We’ve got the initial part of that funding.
“And now we’re looking at grants, government funding, and some private investment and philanthropy, but we’re really confident.
“We’ve got an incredible vision for this place, and the question is, are you with us?”