Tuesday, September 4, 2018 - 16:15

Plans to build a new project which could transform the seaside town of Morecambe have come a step closer with the announcement that a feasibility study has been completed.

The project is being developed by Eden Project International Limited (EPIL) in partnership with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Lancaster University, Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council. It is part of EPIL’s ambition to build Eden Projects around the world.

Eden in Morecambe, in common with every other EPIL project, will be designed to regenerate the area socially, economically and environmentally.

It will draw from Eden’s expertise in boosting an area of Cornwall which was suffering from a decline in traditional industries. Eden in Cornwall has contributed £2 billion to the local economy and welcomed more than 20 million visitors since it opened in 2001.

Eden is working with Grimshaw, the architecture firm who designed the famous Biomes, to create a unique structure for Morecambe with a focus on the marine environment.

Si Bellamy, the Head of EPIL, said: “With this project we want to re-imagine the seaside resort for the 21st century.  Morecambe has a wonderful history of being a place where people come to relax and unwind, a place of wellbeing. We have taken great care within the feasibility to ensure that anything that we do enhances the bay and peoples’ understanding of it and the natural world.

“We aim to make a real difference, whether it’s a physical transformation or a socio-economic regeneration. This is a great opportunity to connect people with the bay, a place with unique scientific interest and natural features.”

Professor Andrew Atherton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University, said:  “Lancaster University is excited about the prospect of creating an Eden North in Morecambe. Along with our partners in the local community and North West, we believe it can become a major attraction and resource that will attract visitors and users nationally and internationally.

“As one of the UK’s leading universities, with some of the best research and teaching available, we are focused on establishing a high quality education and research offer in Eden North. As a member of the local community, 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.”

Councillor Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said:  "Eden’s big and exciting and plans have the potential to be a real game-changer for Morecambe, for Lancashire and for the whole region, transforming the economy, raising prosperity and creating new jobs.
"This would be a really significant development complementing and boosting the council’s own regeneration plans to develop employment sites alongside the Bay Gateway and new support for local businesses. 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.”

County Councillor Geoff Driver CBE, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "The Bay Gateway, which was created by the county council, has opened up commercial opportunities for Morecambe and Heysham. The road has already reduced congestion in key areas and we knew that it would also bring long-term economic gains and development opportunities thanks to improved access to the Heysham peninsula.

"We're working with other organisations as part of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership to open up new opportunities. The plans for Eden North are still at a very early stage, but have great potential to create a high-quality visitor attraction that would give a significant boost to the local economy."

Rachel McQueen, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire, said: “Following the positive findings of an LEP-led feasibility study into the proposals, the news that all the partners behind the Eden North project are keen to go ahead with plans for a major global attraction in Morecambe, is very welcome.
“This will involve significant investment in creating a world-class visitor attraction and research centre in the county, which would support regeneration, education and job creation locally and throughout the county, and raise the profile of Lancashire nationally and internationally.”