The 140-page business case presents Eden Project North as “a key driver of the UK’s post-Covid green recovery” describing it a “shovel-ready” project that would also deliver “significant economic, environmental and social benefits” for the wider north-west region.
A key idea behind the ambitious project is to build on Morecambe’s motto during its tourism heyday: “Beauty surrounds and health abounds.”
The aim is to create a year-round destination on the site of Bubbles, a much-missed swimming pool that would appeal to lovers of art, science, adventure, play and performance as well as nature.
A section called “Above the Bay” would be filled with plants and art exhibitions showcasing the abundance of nature and the rhythms of life linked to the sun while “Below the Bay” would be an immersive series of theatrical experiences that bring to life lunar rhythms and tides.
The “Natural Sanctuary” is set to be an area focused on the health-giving aspects of the seaside with wellbeing treatments offered while the Natural Observatory would be the home of Eden Project North’s research and education programmes. Artists’ impressions show the site as five pavilions shaped like giant mussels.
It will not come cheap. In total, the business case projects that the eventual cost of Eden Project North will be £125m. Eden is seeking a mixture of private and public funds to make up the difference beyond any central government funding.
But it is projected to attract around a million visitors a year and directly employ more than 400 people. The business case estimates a visitor spend of more than £200m per year in the region (not including money spent at Eden Project North), which would support an additional 1,500 jobs.
Eden Project North, says the report, would contribute to the UK’s carbon net zero and green jobs targets, both directly through its operations and through green education programmes delivered with Lancaster University.
The plan was prepared in collaboration with the university, Lancashire county council, Lancaster city council, and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.
But at the heart is the team behind the Eden Project in Cornwall, which transformed a former china clay pit, which was sterile, unstable and had no soil, into a stunning attraction that includes giant biomes packed with rainforest plants. The Lancashire scheme is a key project in Eden’s plans to expand around the UK and the world.
David Harland, the chief executive of Eden Project International, said: “The world has changed beyond measure this year and it is imperative as we come out of the pandemic that our collective focus is on a recovery that stimulates the economy, is environmentally forward looking and creates meaningful, green collar jobs. Our firm belief is that Eden Project North does all of these things and will be transformative for Morecambe and the surrounding region.”
Erica Lewis, the leader of Lancaster city council, said: “As we plan for recovery from the impacts of Covid-19, the benefits the project will bring are more important than ever.”
The Conservative MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, David Morris, added: “The government have a levelling-up agenda for the north, and I can see no greater project than Eden to level up our part of the north-west. The project is ready to go as soon as the funding is confirmed. It will be a game changer for our area.”