Approval recommended for £125m Eden Project North development

Proposals for the new Eden Project

The £125m Eden Project North development is recommended for approval, at the January 31 meeting of Lancaster City Council planning committee.

The scheme is proposed by Eden Project International Limited, which developed the original Eden Project in Cornwall more than 20 years ago.

Eden Project North will be a major new exemplar attraction in Morecambe that seeks to reimagine the British seaside resort for the 21st century, and could be open by 2024.

The plan is for a year-round destination that combines indoor and outdoor experiences, connecting people with the internationally-significant natural environment of Morecambe Bay while also enhancing wellbeing.

The striking design of Eden Project North (EPN) will complement the rich architectural heritage of Morecambe, typified by the project’s close neighbours, the Grade II-listed Midland Hotel and the Grade II-listed Winter Gardens.

The vision for the scheme focuses on natural rhythms, such as tidal rhythms and lunar rhythms, and how they underpin the health and wellbeing of people and the natural environment. The development is based on three core venues within the attraction. This includes:

  • Above the Bay: An environment filled with plants and art exhibits, showcasing natural abundance and the rhythms of life linked to the sun
  • Below the Bay: An immersive series of theatrical experiences that bring to life lunar rhythms and tides, and
  • The Natural Observatory: The home of EPNs research and education programmes. Within these venues, there will be a range of uses that fall within a combination of Use Class E (commercial, business and service use), Class F1 (learning and on-residential institutions) and Class F2 (local community uses)

Eden Project North is projected to attract around one million visitors.

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.

The development is designed to accommodate 4,000 visitors per day with a maximum of 750 visitors per hour accessing the site at peak times.

The proposed development will directly employ around 390 full time equivalent staff. In addition to the main venue, a maximum 6,000-person capacity outdoor arena is included in the proposals. It is proposed that up to eight late evening events per calendar year, during summer only, would take place.

Plans for the new scheme

Two objections have been received from the public, claiming the building is too large for the site creating a dominant feature that is oversized in the current townscape, that the building turns its back on the town, save for the entrance, and the loss of the Promenade Gardens and existing trees.

However, planning officers recommend approval for the application, commenting: “Most observers consider that EPN will provide a catalyst for transformation of the town, the district, and the wider economic region. Whilst EPN will be different to the existing Eden Project in Cornwall in terms of its content and built form, it is, nonetheless, tempting to note the impact that the Cornwall site has had on the local economy.

“It is a significant local employer that operates a variety of education and social projects and has attracted over 18 million visitors since it first opened over 20 years ago. It is estimated that it has contributed £1.7bn to the local economy during that time.”

Eden Project International chief executive, David Harland, is a speaker at TheBusinessDesk.com’s Invest North 2022 event, taking place on March 2.

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