Boris Johnson gave fresh hope that Eden Project North will be built when he suggested government funding could soon be released.
The Prime Minister was quizzed on the major development during a visit to Blackpool and told LancsLive that the Leveling Up Fund requirements had been changed to make Eden Project North eligible. A submission for this funding should be made in the coming weeks.
Lancaster City Council has approved planning permission for an ecotourism attraction, with proposals including shell-shaped exhibition pavilions, indoor and outdoor activities and additional events throughout the summer. Hundreds of jobs are expected to be created with the new waterfront, which is linked to the Eden project in Cornwall but will clearly focus on Morecambe Bay.
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Project officials say construction work is ready to start as soon as funding is committed, but the government has been slow to act on previous suggestions that it will offer financial support of up to £50m for the development . David Harland, CEO of Eden Project International Ltd, said earlier this year that he believed a full opening was likely in 2024 or 2025.
He was asked about his progress at a public meeting earlier this year and said: “‘We are aware that the government has many funding priorities, but if you really want to demonstrate a leveling up and that you want to be an environmental example to the world, if you want to develop skills for the 21st century…and if you want to demonstrate how to do transport links right and show that change is possible within communities and using the arts, culture and science and working with fantastic partners like Lancaster University and others in the region, well, that’s it.
Asked for an update on the development, Mr Johnson this week gave the clearest indication yet that the government is ready to provide the major support needed. He said: “Eden Project is a bit more advanced in the sense that what’s happened is that in a couple of weeks an application will be submitted – it’s got planning permission – but an application has to be submitted. to the Leveling Up Fund.
“There has been a bespoke modification to the Leveling Fund which I believe will ensure that the Eden Project crosses the threshold and crosses the line. I know it’s for £50m and we’ll see where that comes up. It’s kind of a finger-crossing moment, but that’s where we are.
The project has been described as a ‘game changer’ for the future of Morecambe and is expected to trigger a significant tourism boost and wider investment which will create more jobs and provide a welcome injection into the local economy. It would directly employ over 400 people, with a further 1,500 jobs supported in the area, and inject £200million a year into the North West economy.