Eden Project to launch tourist attraction in Morecambe Bay

Funding sought to ‘reimagine 21st-century seaside resort’ in once-booming Lancashire town

The Eden Project plans to open a version of its Cornish tourist attraction in Morecambe in a move hailed as a “game-changer” for the Lancashire seaside resort.

The environmental centre, which attracts more than 1 million visitors a year, said it was looking for funding for the project after carrying out a feasibility study.

It is understood the Morecambe project would cost about £100m to launch, half of which would be government funding, with the remainder provided by private investors and philanthropists.

Simon Bellamy, the head of Eden Project International, said its vision was to “reimagine what the 21st-century seaside resort could look like” and that it would be different from the Cornish site.

Last year, the Eden Project announced proposals to globalise its eco-friendly mission, with plans for at least one Eden on every continent except Antarctica.

The once-booming seaside town of Morecambe can now add itself to the list, alongside sites in China, Australia, New Zealand and Derry in Northern Ireland.

Bellamy said: “The Eden Project in Cornwall is about the connection with plants; this is about the connection with this wonderful environment here in Morecambe, the bay.”

David Morris, the Conservative MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, hailed the move as a “a game-changer for Morecambe and its regeneration”.

He said he was working with Jake Berry, the Northern Powerhouse minister, to secure government funding for the project.

“We have been working behind the scenes on this for a long time now and there is still work to be done to secure the funding the project needs,” he said. “I will be continuing to work hard on this project to make sure the government funding for this project is secured.”

Andrew Atherton, the deputy vice-chancellor of Lancaster university, which is one of the partners on the project, said it would be both a regeneration project and a tourist attraction.

He said: “We believe it can become a major attraction and resource that will attract visitors and users nationally and internationally ... the university is confident that Eden North will bring regeneration and prosperity to Morecambe and its surrounds. This project is a game-changer, and will have a hugely positive impact.”

The Eden Project in Cornwall
The Eden Project in Cornwall has attracted 19m visitors since it opened in 2001. Photograph: P A Thompson/Getty Images

Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster city council, said Eden’s exciting plans could transform the local economy: “It’s clear that Morecambe is on the cusp of a renaissance. The city council backs these exciting plans 100%, and while it will be quite a journey to make the vision a reality, it will do all it can to support Eden and our shared vision of creating a world-renowned attraction and educational facility and the substantial economic prospect it brings with it.”

The Eden Project has become Cornwall’s most popular visitor attraction since it opened at a cost of £141m, including £56m from the Millennium Lottery Fund, on the site of a disused china clay pit in St Austell in 2001.

The site has attracted 19 million visitors since it opened. Part of the project’s success has been in drawing tourists away from the traditional coastal hotspots into a post-industrial inland area that had been one of the most deprived parts of Britain.

The Cornish site now boasts a 16,000- sq metre rainforest, England’s longest and fastest zipwire, the planet’s biggest, smelliest flower and a 3.3-tonne robot. It has hosted concerts by Pulp, Gary Barlow, Queens of the Stone Age and Bjork.

Contributor

Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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