Major new visitor attraction for Dorset moves closer
A major new visitor destination on Portland, which is being supported by Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), has moved a step forward in its development in partnership with the renowned Eden Project.
Eden Portland brings together the visions of two world-class attraction projects that had been planned for Portland for some time – MEMO and Jurassica. In partnership with Eden Project International Limited it aims to transform and regenerate exhausted quarry and mine workings to create a world-class visitor destination for Portland.
The attraction will be located in spectacular tunnels excavated by Albion Stone in Jordan’s Mine, which is nearing the end of its industrial life. There will be nearly a linear kilometre of underground ‘gallery’ space. Inside this labyrinth of tunnels, visitors will explore the dramatic history of life on earth
Eden Portland aims to create 130 jobs and attract 320,000 visitors a year. Dorset LEP is pleased to have secured £1.3m towards the scheme via the Government’s Local Growth Fund.
Jim Stewart, Chair Dorset LEP said: “I am excited to see progress being made to this major new visitor attraction at Portland, which Dorset LEP has been pleased to support.
“The project will provide much needed employment and apprenticeship opportunities in around the area and having the association of the hugely successful Eden project brand will make it more attractive to tourists helping to increase visitor spend in Dorset.”
The project has also received financial support from Dorset County Council, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, philanthropist Sue Lyons, and The Valentine Trust.
Sebastian Brooke, Project Director, MEMO said: “We will tell the biggest story of all: the evolving story of life. It’s a story four billion years in the making and so far as anyone knows has happened nowhere else in the universe. According to the world’s biologists, a really significant chapter is unfolding right now with the loss of biodiversity worldwide, and with its mines, its cliffs and its mysteries, Portland is an amazingly vivid setting for the telling of it”
Minister for Local Growth, Jake Berry, said: “This government is committed to boosting economic growth across the whole of the UK and building a Britain fit for the future.
“I’m delighted that Government is investing in such an exciting and inspiring project. Plans for this major tourism attraction, with all the associated benefits that Eden Project International brings, offer opportunities not just for Portland, but Dorset’s wider economy too.”
A design team has now been appointed, including international award winning virtual reality and visual effects artists. Work is on schedule for the submission of a planning application later in the year.
Drop-in events are being held on Portland ahead of a planning application being submitted later this autumn.
About the Local Growth Fund
Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone.
That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.
A total of £98.5 million for Dorset has already been successfully bid for by the LEP in Dorset Growth Deals, which aim to bring together local, national and private sector funding to unlock and unblock key housing and employment sites, create more highly skilled jobs, and support economic growth.