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The Eden Project, Heartlands and Razorlight

13 July 2009

I spent last Thursday visiting the Eden Project (which received a Lottery grant of £56 million from one of our predecessor bodies, the Millennium Commission).

I wanted to see and understand how the Project is extending its philosophy and influence well beyond the former clay pits of Cornwall. We heard about two subsequent BIG awards to encourage children’s play and family learning across the county and, through an imaginative link-up, with Middlesbrough.

The Eden team are also doing some interesting work engaging and involving people in expressing views about what should feature in their parish plans which is helping give voice to ideas and perspectives from those who would otherwise lack confidence to get involved. We are keen to find out more about such techniques as we look to take forward the Community strand of funding proposed in Big thinking.

Razorlight were playing an open-air concert live that night and Tim Smit, the inspiration behind Eden, had the crazy idea that I should tell 6,000 expectant fans why they should get interested in BIG funding to make a positive difference in their communities. That was too good an opportunity to miss, though my performance was clearly not as YouTube-able as America or Somewhere Else!

On Friday we headed down to Pool to check out progress at Heartlands – one of the £25 million Living Landmarks awards made at the back end of 2007. At the centre of the old tin mining area is an ambitious plan to regenerate in spectacular fashion, a desolate area between Redruth and Camborne. Changes to local government responsibilities across the Council are now behind them and people lined up to explain how they are pressing ahead.

We saw some amazing old technology and it was fascinating to understand the history of industry in Cornwall, a story I am sure many others are going to enjoy in years to come when their holidays take in Heartlands as well as Eden.

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