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INTERVIEW: Eden Project Morecambe chief expects full funding package by summer and spade in ground by autumn/winter

Si Bellamy, chief transformation officer at the Eden Project, was speaking at Morecambe Winter Gardens on Tuesday

An Eden Project Morecambe chief has laid out the timescales as the countdown to work starting on the new £100m attraction enters its final months.

Si Bellamy said he expected the full funding package for the new Eden to be in place "by the middle of summer, if not before" and for work to start on site "towards the autumn, early part of winter" this year.

Mr Bellamy, chief transformation officer at the Eden Project, was speaking at a special two-day 'Rhythm Makers' event put on by Eden at Morecambe Winter Gardens.

He said the new enviromental attraction on the central Promenade, themed on Morecambe Bay with a huge range of sights and activities for visitors to enjoy, remains on target for a partial opening in 2026 and full opening in 2027.

LISTEN to our interview with Si Bellamy

Mr Bellamy said work would only start once the full remaining £50m of the funding package had been secured, and they were in "the final few millions" of getting that done.

"Every week we're closer," he said.

"We are in the final few millions. Ninety-seven per cent now has high confidence. We're in that final tricky last amount.

"We are confident we're going to get that together before the end of the summer. We're working with the Department of Levelling Up and (Lancaster) City council to put that whole package together so we can make a start.

"What you want is to have confidence. You need to have your funding sorted and secured. We will be starting when we have the full package arranged. We're really confident we're going to get that together by the middle of summer, if not before.

"We're really hopeful we're going to do our site activation towards the autumn, early part of the winter. Then we'll be in a two-year building phase after that. But first of all, it's about activating the site, getting a spade in the ground, getting the hoardings up. That's what people are going to start seeing first and construction will follow, once we've appointed contractors into our team."

In a message to residents who remain sceptical that the Eden Project Morecambe will happen, Mr Bellamy asked for "patience".

"We never get frustrated," he said.

"In our DNA, we're practical optimists. We always see the barriers and the challenges, but we also see the possibilities and opportunities.

"Eden Project Morecambe, I've been working on this since 2017. Edens take a long time to put together. They are big transformational projects. So we fully understand that the expectations of the local community are sky-high.

"But likewise, the patience also needs to be balanced with that. So our ambition hasn't changed. Really, we just ask the local community to please keep bearing with us. Eden Project Morecambe will happen. The ambition for a world class transformational destination is as we've set out. Eden Project Morecambe will have its opening in 2027."

This week's Rhythm Makers event, being held on April 23 and 24 (open until 2.30pm on Wednesday and free to the public), has pulled crowds of people to the Winter Gardens theatre to find out more about the project, and to get involved with helping to co-design some of the exhibits and visitor experiences.

Mr Bellamy said that a "structured programme" of work with local groups would continue until June/July.

Eden will also open its first site office in Morecambe soon, inside a unit at the Winter Gardens.

"We're going to have another site office when we're into construction, but this is our first site office for Eden Project Morecambe," he said.

"In there in the weeks and months to come, people from the local region can come down, drop in and find out more about the project. It becomes our first office base where we can launch the project from. When we've got all our plans ready for that, we'll be launching."

In 2023 Eden received £50m of government Levelling Up money towards the scheme, and work has been going on to secure the rest from private and philanthrophic sources. Eden have also consistently said the £100m price is not expected to rise, despite the likelihood of increased building costs.

Last year, Mr Bellamy told Beyond Radio: "We've been very clear from the outset that this is a £100m scheme.

"We're making sure, before we start, that the costs are known, so we don't have those overrun issues.

"We're really focussed in bringing the scheme on-cost, but we also want an amazing destination for visitors, that they come in and realise that every penny that's been (spent) on the site, they can see it, they can feel it. Inflation is a risk, but it's factored into our thinking from the outset."

Read more: INTERVIEW: Eden Project Morecambe on track for second £50m funding and 2026 opening - Beyond Radio

The proposed Eden Project Morecambe is earmarked for 4.8 hectares of land on the central promenade in Morecambe, near the Midland hotel.

The mixed-use complex will be housed in shell-like domes and will combine indoor and outdoor attractions, themed around Morecambe Bay.

The facility is set to include plants, art and interactive exhibits, a concert area for live music events, three cafe/restaurants and a visitor centre. 

It will include:

  • Above the Bay/The Realm of the Sun: an environment filled with plants and art exhibits, showcasing natural abundance and the rhythms of life linked to the sun.
  • Below the Bay/The Realm of the Moon: an immersive series of theatrical experiences that bring to life lunar rhythms and tides.
  • The Natural Observatory: the home of Eden Project Morecambe's research and education programmes.

There will be "groundbreaking immersive experiences" and "a beautiful and sustainable architectural design".

It has been estimated that the Eden Project Morecambe would pull 740,000 visitors annually, as well as providing around 300 high-quality green jobs, plus more than 1,000 additional new jobs supported in the region.

The existing UK Eden Project visitor attraction in Cornwall has transformed the region's economy since opening in 2000.

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