Caption: Credit: via Planning documents
There’s a lot of talk about Levelling Up and what that means. In this blog, our Strategic Director Kerry Doig homes in on Eden Project North and explores the significant social and economic impact it could have on Morecambe and the wider region if SMEs are given the chance to flex their muscles.
We’ve been following the progress of plans for Eden Project North West in Morecombe very closely here at Solomons. Not only is it exciting to think that this iconic brand will be bringing new life to an often overlooked coastal resort, which once thrived and bustled with holiday makers in the Agatha Christie era of beach bathing, donkey rides and Punch and Judy shows, and whose art deco styling has lacked investment for decades. It’s exciting because the Eden Project is known to be a game changer.
The single-minded determination of its founders to bring a totally new concept to life at a time when people weren’t quite so tuned into the environmental importance of a balanced ecosystem as they are now, was revolutionary. Anyone who has visited the site in Cornwall and knows the back story will understand just how much this project truly disrupted the status quo: how they rallied against the establishment to convince the planners that the project would first, be delivered, and second have a positive impact in the area. Positive, not just in terms of jobs but educating across generations about the need for a balanced planet and how it can be achieved in practice.
So, with this reputation for breaking the mould, we’re naturally curious to see how this might pan out when the actual build begins on its second site more than 350 miles away from the first.
We all know how projects are traditionally procured and delivered. A designer is brought on board and a main contractor appointed to deliver the project. But could this be a chance to shatter the confines of traditional procurement and take a radically different approach? Could it be that this project could be delivered entirely by regional SMEs to ensure that the whole project lifecycle delivers optimal social impact? And when I say social impact, yes that means new jobs and skills across the Morecambe region while the site investigation and build phases progress, but it also extends to creating sustainable, ‘planet positive’ businesses that are fit for a greener and brighter future.
The skills and experiences on this project will be truly unique. These are opportunities SMEs are wholly geared to make the very most of, as their ability to flex and adapt is exceptional and limitless.
It’s very, very exciting to think we’ll have such a client in the North West and I’m sure others in the region will be watching closely.
This project will no doubt have significant press coverage from start to finish, as expectations of the Eden Project brand and their mould breaking reputation alongside their intrinsic ethos will set the bar high: “Our global mission is to create a movement that builds relationships between people and the natural world to demonstrate the power of working together for the benefit of all living things.”
No doubt every large design house and main contractor will be setting their sights on getting the gig for this project, but our Swimming with the Big Fish movement has a lot to offer in terms of alignment.
We care about our regions and our people and we’ll live alongside this project long after the doors open.
We’ll take pride in any part we play in such an exciting, mould breaking project and will give our all to making it happen.
It will be us who are first through the doors with our family when it comes to opening the site to the public.
We will want to show our parents, our children, our extended families exactly what we were part of – the challenges, the long hours spent getting things right, the sense of pride we had in the work we were doing and the friends we made whilst doing it.
SMEs would bring passion, purpose and pride to a project like this, and surely a mould breaking client like the Eden Project will be willing to give us SMEs a shot at making the project work and thrive for Morecombe.
So yes, we are very excited to see a dream project like this come to life in our wonderful Northern Powerhouse, and with the new levelling up fund allocation we hope things will start to come to life very soon.
Click here to read more about the Swimming with the Big Fish movement and our passion for SMEs.