The Eden Project has today (Wednesday) been awarded £50m in the second round of the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund to build the new Eden Project Morecambe in Lancashire.
The bid was submitted by Lancaster City Council, one of the Eden Project’s key partners on the Morecambe attraction, and was chosen as a recipient of the largest investment possible under the fund, earmarked for large-scale cultural regeneration projects.
As the lead for the partnership bid, Lancaster City Council will be the recipient of the funding and will work with partners to ensure it is allocated in accordance with Government requirements.
Eden Project Morecambe is the new official name for the project, which has previously been known as Eden Project North.
Preparatory ground work will now be undertaken on the site on the Morecambe seafront, a vital prelude to construction beginning. The Eden Project team will ensure the community is kept informed about the construction schedule through its social media channels, the local media and a revamped series of community engagement events.
An expanded project delivery team will be created in preparation for the construction phase with details of the first round of recruitment to be announced soon. Around 300 high-quality green jobs will be directly created by Eden Project Morecambe, with more than 1,000 additional new jobs supported in the region.
The £50m investment is half of the £100m needed to build the coastal-themed project. The funding allows the project to move into its next phase and begin the process of finalising the remaining £50m from private and philanthropic sources identified as part of the bidding process.
Annual visitor numbers are projected to be 740,000 and additional revenue brought into local businesses due to Eden Project Morecambe is set to exceed the £50m Government investment within months of the project opening. Now that the Levelling Up Fund process has concluded, preparation for construction is due to start this year and the aim is for Eden Project Morecambe to be open to visitors by 2026.
Eden Project Morecambe is being delivered by the team behind the first Eden Project in Cornwall, alongside local partners Lancaster University, Lancaster City Council, Lancashire County Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership. It is one of the key initiatives in an expansion plan that will see Eden Projects built elsewhere in the UK and around the world.
Rob Chatwin, Group CEO of the Eden Project, welcomed today’s news. He said: “This is a historic moment for the town of Morecambe and the surrounding area and for the Eden Project and our partners.
“We are delighted that Eden Project Morecambe has been recognised as part of the Levelling Up Fund and we are incredibly grateful to the Government, our partners, David Morris MP and the unique community of Morecambe for their wholehearted support. This is a ringing endorsement of the teamwork that has brought Eden Project Morecambe to this point. We will now continue to work hard with our partners to make this vision a reality.”
Councillor Caroline Jackson, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “Here in the Lancaster district we are celebrating the way a uniquely local vision has been turned into an exciting reality. I’m particularly delighted with the new name – Eden Project Morecambe – which confirms its place at the very heart of our community.
“The town is once more very firmly on the map. It has taken hard work and a powerful partnership to reach this moment. My thanks go to all who worked so tirelessly in putting together the comprehensive bid. This is fantastic news and presents a once in a generation opportunity to reinvent and rejuvenate Morecambe into a 21st-century seaside resort and I’m excited to see work start this year.”
County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “This exciting transformational project will bring a huge boost to Morecambe and its economy, supporting the work we are collectively doing towards Levelling Up and supporting our future ambitions for the county.
“Lancashire continues to be recognised as a great place to invest, especially in sustainable, ambitious and innovative schemes. We are very proud to be able to support this project to take its next steps to become a reality for our residents and businesses and are confident it will be a massive success.”
Debbie Francis OBE, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, which contributed £1.2m from its Growth Deal Programme to help develop the project, said: “This funding is fantastic news for Morecambe and Lancashire as a whole. Eden Project Morecambe is a truly transformational scheme that embodies the ethos of Levelling-Up and shows what can be achieved through partnership working.
“The project will have an immense economic, social and environmental impact on the county. Eden is an international brand which will not only attract visitors to the area, but will create significant job opportunities directly and indirectly in our local supply chains, stimulating growth in some of our key sectors, as well as enhancing our already significant environmental research expertise.
“The LEP looks forward to continuing to work with all partners as the project progresses to the next stage.”
Sarah Kemp, Lancaster University Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engagement, said: “As an anchor institution we are deeply invested in the health and vitality of our regional economy and the University has long championed the idea of Eden coming to the North of England.
“We are delighted to see that idea taking a step closer to becoming a reality and look forward to building on our partnerships, bringing the full strength of Lancaster University’s research expertise in environment, sustainability and enterprise power to the table for the benefit of our region.”
David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, said: “Five years of work has finally come to fruition and after lobbying four Prime Ministers and six Chancellors and more meetings and debates in Parliament than I can count, I am absolutely delighted we have secured the funding for this project to go ahead.
“What started off as a dream has now become reality and this will secure prosperity in Morecambe for generations to come. This decision has quite literally changed Morecambe forever.”
Eden Project Morecambe will be a landmark attraction for the North West which will continue the Eden Project’s mission of connecting people to the natural world, celebrating the unique environment of Morecambe Bay.
Eden Project Morecambe will be situated on the central promenade of Morecambe, on the former site of the Bubbles leisure complex with the Grade II* listed Winter Gardens and Midland Hotel its near neighbours. The project has been designed in a way which is sensitive and complementary to these important buildings and sightlines across the Bay.