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Eden Project vision proposed for Pontins site at Hemsby
Eden Project
The new holiday centre could feature giant domes such as those in Cornwall

A Norfolk businessman is hoping to create "The Eden of the East" on the derelict site of Pontins holiday park in Hemsby, near Great Yarmouth.

Simon Middleton has been working with local people to develop the idea for the giant indoor sub-tropical residential centre since spring 2009.

"The idea is to convert it into something very 21st Century," he said.

His idea has the backing of Hemsby Parish Council and other local businesses.

The project is currently in its planning phase and Simon Middleton is looking for suitable investment for fund his "vision".

"There's an awful lot of work to be done. At the moment it's a vision where the gaps are getting gradually filled in," said Simon.

"We've got a picture in our minds of what it would look like and a picture of who would want to come and visit and stay at it, but there's an awful lot of practical stuff to do.

We encourage the owners of the land to try and come up with some way of keeping it in the holiday industry, otherwise Hemsby is doomed!
Lyndon Bevan, business owner and member of Hemsby Parish Council

"The first thing we need to do is find some people who would be interested in investing in it, because it would be an expensive investment, but I think it has massive potential."

The new 800-person carbon-neutral centre, which Simon describes as a "flagship for Norfolk tourism", hopes to include lodges and big biomes [giant domes] that are temperature-controlled for people to camp in all year round.

At the centre where "Eden meets Centre Parcs", people could take part in activities such as canoeing and rock-climbing and there would be an adventure playground for children.

Residents could also learn about living a sustainable and ecological lifestyle.

Bold idea

Other businessmen from Hemsby are encouraging Simon's bold idea to regenerate the village's tourism into the new decade and stop the derelict Pontins site being used for housing.

"I think it's a brilliant idea. Hemsby's got lots to offer, we're close to all amenities," said James Gray, owner of Lost World Adventure Golf on Beach Road in the village.

Illustration: Hemsby's Eden Project

"I don't think the infrastructure is there for much more housing. There are a lot of people who rely on the tourist trade here. Last year [2008] Pontins was full, this year [2009] it was empty and that's money we've all lost.

"The beginning of the year is a good time to be talking about it and hopefully by next year [2011] things will have progressed a lot further."

Lyndon Bevan, business owner and member of Hemsby Parish Council, says the idea would receive backing from the local community.

"The parish council is adamant that this [Pontins] cannot go for houses," he said.

"This idea is one of many ideas that we're trying to put forward to Northern Trust and we encourage them as the owners of the land to try and come up with some way of keeping it in the holiday industry, otherwise Hemsby is doomed!" he added.

This Have Your Say is now closed. Look below to see a selection of your comments.

It's a brilliant idea I am all for it. Clever man (Simon Middleton) you have my full support.
Fran Graves from Hemsby

I come to good old Hemsby all the time - me and my partner love it. We think it sounds like a good idea to do the Eden Project idea on the old Pontins site.

It will bring a lot more people back and will be good for trade. No good putting houses up, there is no work there now for local people, only in the summer months and most have to sign on as unemployed in the winter.

Keep Hemsby 'holidaying' land.
K Webb from Luton

I know the area well and I think it is a fantastic idea as the whole of that area (not just Hemsby) is a popular tourist destination, which has relied heavily upon the facilities and employment provided previously by Pontins.

The Pontins site currently looks terrible and as it takes up a large part of Hemsby something should be done about it sooner rather than later.

The environmental theme is a positive one and something which should be focused on, noting also there is a large wind farm just off the coast.

I agree with the Parish Council that the site should not go for housing as there are a number of new developments in the area and there doesn't seem to be a shortage of housing, and further housing does not bring employment.

What the area does need is something to attract people to it, noting that many businesses in the area rely on tourism... this sounds like the perfect solution.
Hilary Lowe from Cheshunt, Herts

I have a chalet next door to the Pontins site. I feel that not only would it benefit my family when they visit with their children but it would benefit people who live in Hemsby.

It would create jobs, where building more houses would make the community even bigger and the job situation worse.

Who wants to go all the way to Cornwall to the only Eden project in the country when a couple of hours from London you can have your own?

I have noticed since I last came to the chalet that the area has been given a facelift which really looks nice. I think it will be a great asset to one and all.
Linda Rust

What a brilliant idea the Eden of the East project is. Very modern and futuristic, eco friendly and an instant draw for tourists, not just during the summer months but all year round.

I would suggest that it is also accessible to the local population as well as tourists, so they can enjoy it's many facilities and activities. Many local residents would also benefit from the employment opportunities that it would generate.

I notice a couple of small wind turbines in the picture, this will, I'm sure, give fuel to the Anti-Turbine brigade to voice their opposition to the project. In my opinion the Eden of the East is the best idea yet.

Lets help get Hemsby back as the first destination resort on the East Coast as it used to be. We are fast becoming a retirement village for people from all parts of the country, it's about time we breathed some new life into Hemsby and I for one am all for it.

Thank you and good luck to Simon Middleton for endeavouring to bring Hemsby back from the brink!
Peggy Sutton from Hemsby

Eden, what a great idea. I have been working for the holiday camps doing the maintenance for years. Go for it!
Scott Jay from Caister-on-Sea

I stayed at the Hemsby holiday camp 50 years ago and have fond memories of the local girls (wish I had married her), the beach and its golden sand.

The domes idea has merit.
Roger Crowhurst from Borneo

Great idea, will generate income to a great holiday area.
Steve Burrows from Hemsby

Love the idea - we went to the Eden Project in its first year and again recently, would love to see something like that at the end of our road.

We just hope that it encourages more visitors to our lovely area and will also be fully open to villagers. We moved here seven years ago and love it!
Pat and Allan from Hemsby

I agree with James, Hemsby just needs a lot more entertainment for adults and children and less food facilities, as this could make a brighter and better holiday area.
Tammy Hall from Scratby

I think Pontins should stay as a holiday centre. Since Pontins closed you can really see the difference in the village. There isn't as many visitors and this can only have a detrimental effect on Hemsby.
Eutopia Sanquez from Hemsby

This would be great news for the area, tourism is so important and this would be a destination in its own right and would bring business to Hemsby and the whole of Great Yarmouth. Fingers crossed for this one.
Brandon Lewis from Hemsby

We have a holiday chalet at Hemsby and we like the resort. This seems a great idea. We always thought the site should be used for some sort of holiday location. I look forward to hearing more about the progress.
Angela Horsfield from South Walsham

I have so much affection for Hemsby as a resort. Its roots go deep into the working-class sand. Bring on The Eden Project - but may the Long Beach Estate prosper forever!
Cath from Hempnall

Really great idea, too far to drive to Cornwall for the Eden Project and it brings more jobs to the area! It will also teach visitors and locals about something new. I think it's exciting and they definitely should do it! It'll bring something more classy to the area.
Sha Ciara from Norwich

Hemsby's Eden Project is a great idea, we cannot see it made into another housing estate please. Let's have some leisure facilities that we can all (residents) as well as holidaymakers enjoy!
Maggie Bowler from Hemsby

This idea sounds much more profitable to the other smaller business people in the village. Also a much better idea than an overspill for yet more incoming refugees, residential housing we don't need - more holiday style accommodation we do.
David Singleton from Hemsby

What a fantastic idea! This would encourage tourism and capital into an area that badly needs it.
Claire Moore from Attleborough

I think that it is a wonderful idea, there is not enough done in the Norfolk area to attract new visitors - this is a wonderful scheme.
Mandy Ashby from Watton

Wonderful - I think of the Eden Project as a 'Noah's Ark', like other nature reserves, maintaining and promoting an awareness of ecology in my grandchildren and theirs. Anything like this is to be welcomed!
Nick from King's Lynn

Rundown Hemsby as it is has been doomed for many years. The coastal village must move forward.

I suggest that a camp for touring vans would help reinvigorate the area and bring in much needed people with disposable income. There are already major caravan parks nearby and they will not be compromised by this type of development.

The site should offer high quality facilities and secluded surroundings.

The yesteryear amusements presently installed should be replaced with better restaurants and updated facilities - maybe a large pitch and putt golf course.

New facilities should use the extensive beach and sea views to their advantage.

Why has Pontins closed?

Clean up the whole beachside area removing old buildings and holiday homes where possible and install a large beachside hotel with verandas and a swimming pool as the new centre point for the development.

Don't let self serving interests get in the way of this opportunity to create a new Norfolk Mecca for a more middle class centre.

Get rid off 'Kiss Me Quick' and adopt the new 'Sun-kissed Centre'.
Colin Streeter from Bristol

I think it's a great idea - think even I'd fancy all year camping, also sure visiting family would love to stay there!
J Walpole from Great Yarmouth

Good idea for trade. I spend lots of time in the area, but a large project for a residential area causing lots of traffic would need good access from main road, not access off beach road as Pontins used, because this would affect local residents more than Pontins.
P P Whitehouse from West Midlands

What would the effect be on traffic through Martham, particularly Repps Road? I live on this main road and the volume of traffic and speed is already a dangerous problem!
Jill Dean from Martham

I think it is a brilliant idea and I hope it will become as popular as the Eden Project in Cornwall.

Though I do think a new name would be better, it will show our individuality in Norfolk.

Good Luck!
Barbara Taylor from North Walsham

Brilliant idea and I wish all concerned the very best.

The area cannot take any more residential developments - I live just a couple of miles away and in my village every piece of spare land has been prostituted by developers to the detriment of all.

Here, at last, is a very worthy idea that will actually benefit the local community and help provide long term prosperity for many, rather than a short term profit for a few.
M A Crowther from Caister-on-Sea

Brilliant idea - I'd take the family! The Eden centre is great and this idea offers an interesting spin on that.
Kit from Suffolk

Pontin's to close holiday centre
05 Jan 09 |  Norfolk


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