Another bid has been submitted to the government for the re-imagining of the Eden Project right here on the North West coast.
The bid for an additional £50 million funding from the second round of the Levelling Up Fund has been submitted to the government this week after Lancaster City Council unanimously granted planning permission to build the £125 million Eden Project North – which is set to be a major attraction for Lancashire, and is part of a wider project aiming to “re-imagine Morecambe as a seaside resort for the 21st Century” – back in January, in what was said to be one of the most important planning meetings in over a decade.
Developers and the Council say the £50 million investment would be half the estimated cost of the ambitious project, and the projected 740,000 annual visitors to the site would bring in cash that would exceed the funding.
Hoping to replicate the success of Cornwall’s Eden Project, the Eden Project North will focus on marine life and seeks to transform the well-known Morecambe coastline by building a “ticketed visitor attraction” that is “sustainable and transformative”.
Just like the original Eden Project, visitors can expect large indoor environments housed within “iconic pavilions” at the Morecambe site.
The plans for the new all-year visitor attraction show five shell-shaped domes built on waterfront on the site of Bubbles – a former swimming pool – and appeal to people keen on art, science, adventure, play and performance, as well as nature.
Plenty of immersive experiences, world-class horticulture, food and drink, and retail spaces are also all expected.
An environment filled with plants and art exhibits will be known as ‘Above the Bay’, while theatrical experiences will bring the tides and lunar rhythms to life in ‘Below the Bay’, and there’ll be bookable wellbeing treatments in The Natural Sanctuary, as well as the Eden Project North’s research and education programmes being housed in the ‘Natural Observatory’.
Eden Project North is expected to provide “significant economic, environmental and social benefits” for the area.
Speaking on the submitted funding bid this weed, Cllr Caroline Jackson – Leader of Lancaster City Council – said: “Eden Project North provides an outstanding opportunity to reinvent Morecambe for the 21st century.
“Simply put, it will transform the local economy and have a transformative effect not just on Morecambe but the whole region [and] I have to thank all the Eden partners for the tireless energy and commitment they have shown as we put together this comprehensive bid.”
Eden Project North would directly employ more than 400 people, with an additional 1,500 jobs supported in the region, and hoped to inject £200 million per year into the North West economy.
Subject to funding being secured, it is due to open in 2024.
Featured Image – Eden Project North
Tim Martin is blaming ‘people drinking at home’ for UK Wetherspoons closures
It’s no secret that times are hard for hospitality right now, with pubs and restaurants shutting left, right and centre – but when UK pub giant Wetherspoons starts closing its doors you have to wonder if anyone can survive in this climate.
In September last year, the budget pub chain began listing sites for sale with 32 boozers going up as part of what it described as a “commercial decision”.
Now, it has listed even more – and arch-Brexiteer Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin is apparently blaming people ‘drinking at home’ for the closures.
After the chain suffered a £30 million pound loss, CEO Tim Martin told PA news agency that people ‘have got into the habit of staying in’ ever since Covid and that that was why sales were down on 2019.
He also blamed lockdown restrictions brought in to stop the spread of Covid during the heigh of the pandemic for the pub’s losses,
He said: “The aftermath of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions have been far more difficult than anyone thought.
“That is the picture for the whole pub and restaurant industry. People thought that after lockdown there would be a boom in people suffering from cabin fever but, instead, it has almost become the opposite situation as people have got into the habit of staying in.
“That’s the big thing that means sales are down on 2019. Things are improving now but it’s slow.”
The pub sales are being handled by CBRE and Savills. Toby Hall, senior director at CBRE, said: “The excellent mix of locations in this portfolio is rarely seen in the market.
“With more than half the portfolio located in London and the South East and other strong locations in the South West, Midlands and North we believe the pubs represent an excellent opportunity for existing pub operators and new entrants.”
Which JD Wetherspoon pubs are set for closure?
Pubs which have been sold:
Harvest Moon, Orpington
Alexander Bain, Wick
Chapel an Gansblydhen, Bodmin
Moon on the Square, Basildon
Coal Orchard, Taunton
Running Horse, Airside Doncaster Airport
Wild Rose, Bootle
Edmund Halley, Lee Green
The Willow Grove, Southport
Postal Order, Worcester
North and South Wales Bank, Wrexham
Pubs still up for sale:
The Butlers Bell, Stafford
Worlds Inn, Romford
Silkstone Inn, Barnsley
Wrong ‘Un, Bexleyheath
The Percy Shaw, Halifax
Jolly Sailor, Hanham
The Alfred Herring, Palmers Green
The Moon & Bell, Loughborough
The Widow Frost, Mansfield
Foxley Hatch, Purley
The Rising Sun, Redditch
Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis, Southampton
The Colombia Press, Watford
The Malthouse, Willenhall
The John Masefield, New Ferry
The Crosse Keys, Peebles
Lord Arthur Lee, Fareham
The Saltoun Inn, Fraserburgh
General Sir Redvers Buller, Crediton
Plough & Harrow, Hammersmith
Thomas Leaper, Derby
Tollgate, Turnpike Lane
Millers Well, East Ham
Hudson Bay, Forest Gate
The Billiard Hall, West Bromwich
Capitol, Forest Hill
The Bankers Draft, Eltham
Moon on the Hill, Harrow
The Bank House, Cheltenham
Last Post, Loughton
Government refuses to deny reports HS2 may not run from Manchester to central London
The UK government is refusing to deny recent reports that HS2 may not run from Manchester directly through to central London.
The Sun reported this week that HS2 is currently in “shambles” and that rising inflation and construction costs could mean that trains may terminate in the suburbs of west London instead of London Euston, as has always been planned – with the paper saying transport bosses were considering pushing back the service’s Euston terminus to 2038, or even scrapping it all together.
The paper reported that trains would be instead stopping at a new hub at Old Oak Common in west London’s suburbs, which is about 8km (five miles) away from Euston.
Passengers would then have to finish their journeys into central London by using the Elizabeth Line.
On top of all of this, the paper also reported that anywhere between a two to five-year delay to the entire project is also being considered by the government, however ministers are refusing to confirm or deny any of the reports.
A statement provided by a Department for Transport (DfT) spokesperson reads: “The Government remains committed to delivering HS2 to Manchester, as confirmed in the autumn statement, and as well as supporting tens of thousands of jobs, the project will connect regions across the UK, improve capacity on our railways and provide a greener option of travel.”
HS2, which has the full name High Speed 2, was originally intended to connect London with Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds.
The leg to Leeds has since been scrapped in November 2021, but work on the first phase of the project between London and Birmingham is now well under way, with a part of the line due to open by 2033, despite the fact the project has faced delays and mounting concerns over the exact route, and its potential environmental impact.
While a budget of £55.7 billion for the whole of HS2 was set in 2015, this was made before the Leeds leg was cancelled, and the estimated cost of HS2 was therefore set between £72 billion and £98 billion at 2019 prices.
A report published last October found it was unlikely that the £40.3 billion target for the first section of the line would be met.