I totally agree with the hon. Lady. From what I can gather, this issue is being dealt with by the planning office at Lancaster City Hall as well. She is correct to say that we need better infrastructure in the area to accommodate the large demand when the Eden centre is built.
The commissioning partners have also committed to funding circa £2.3 million to fund the completion of the concept design phase, which will ensure that the project submits a planning application by spring 2020. In essence, Lancashire will lead if the Government confirm their commitment. Following Treasury approval of £100,000 in the autumn Budget 2018, an additional investment of £40 million to £50 million is being sought, closely linked to the wider industrial strategy for the region. A further announcement of investment commitment at the autumn Budget in 2019 is critical to progressing this project.
Eden Project North will be a catalyst to drive regeneration for Morecambe and the wider area, and not just for the Morecambe and Lancaster area but for the wider north-west economy. This can be done. Since opening in 2001, the Eden Project in Cornwall has contributed £2 billion to the economy of Devon and Cornwall. This proposal is in line with Government policy for seaside town regeneration and with environmental policies, with the Government’s 2050 plan, with the national tourism strategy and with the northern powerhouse policy. It will be a high-quality, year-round attraction and wet weather destination—a crowd-puller that engages all ages.
Eden Project North shares much with the hugely successful Eden Project in Cornwall, but the difference is that it will be a sustainable and transformative marine-based, ticketed, eco-park attraction. At its heart will be a large indoor environment housed within iconic pavilions, building on the Eden Project’s particular mix of entertainment and education, leaving visitors with lasting memories and driving positive behavioural change, which everybody in this House will welcome.
As in Cornwall, Eden Project North will combine exhibits, performance, learning, play, immersive experiences, world-class horticulture and art, and food, beverage and retail spaces—all integrated as essential parts of the overall experience. With nearly 20 years of operational expertise, we are blessed that Eden is coming to Morecambe. The design will include specific zones housed in a series of mussel-shaped domes that will be linked together by an entrance known as the bay hall. Above the hall will be an environment filled with plants and art exhibits, showcasing natural abundance and the rhythms of life linked to the sun and the tidal flow. Below the hall will be immersive theatrical experiences that bring the lunar rhythms and tides to life. The natural sanctuary area will focus on the health-giving aspects of the seaside, with bookable wellbeing treatments. The natural observatory area will be the home of the Eden Project North’s research and education programmes. Eden also has plans to create, in time, satellite elements on the promenade that runs along the seafront, which will be a major game changer in Morecambe.
Owing to the link road, Morecambe is now the quickest route to the coast anywhere off the M6. According to Eden’s founder, Tim Smit, the link road is the reason why Eden came to Morecambe. Market analysis has identified a catchment of approximately 11 million people within two hours of Morecambe that will support annual visitors of 760,000 to the project—a conservative estimate at this moment in time.