The seaside town of Morecambe could see up to one million visitors a year under plans to build an £85m northern version of Cornwall’s Eden Project.
The internationally-renowned environmental centre has submitted a scoping report to planning officials on its proposals to build Eden North on the Lancashire resort’s promenade.
The report suggests the 120ft-high domes could attract around 750,000 visitors a year but it will be designed to accommodate up to a million. It is expected to open in 2023 after a carbon neutral building project, with observatories and a 4,000-capacity outdoor arena for live music events.
The brownfield site – the former Bubbles complex which once held Miss Great Britain beauty contests – borders the Morecambe Bay estuary which is internationally designated as a Special Protection Area for the habitats it supports for wild birds. An assessment will be carried out to see if there will be any impact on the environment.
The report says: “Taking account of the location and significance of the site, the assessment will fully assess impacts of the proposals on the site itself, but also to assess potential direct and indirect impacts on the adjacent protected sites, both during construction and operation.
”For example, the proposed development may attract one million visitors per annum, so the effects of increases in recreational disturbance will be assessed, both for coastal birds and habitats.“
A consultation is taking place over the summer before an environmental statement is submitted alongside the planning application in spring next year. The Government has pledged £100,000 towards the planning process.
The report says the complex would be no taller than the neighbouring Grade II* listed Midland Hotel and will ”respect the setting“ of the nearby Grade II* listed Winter Gardens while enhancing Morecambe’s conservation area. Eden’s vision is for a site free of fossil-fuelled vehicles.
David Harland, the chief executive of Eden Project International Ltd, said: ”This is an important milestone for Eden Project North. Having a positive impact on the internationally significant environment of Morecambe Bay is fundamentally to our vision for this project.
“We have been overwhelmed by the support we have had from the local community and we look forward to working closely with everyone in the coming months and years as Eden Project North takes shape.”