Dundonians share excitement after Eden Project approved – but some say ‘tackle drug crisis first’

People in Dundee have shared their views after city councillors granted planning permission for the £130 million Eden Project.

The application to see the former gasworks on East Dock Street transformed into a global attraction was unanimously approved at a full council meeting last week.

The vast site will consist of three different venues which are expected to feature cultivated wild landscapes, exhibitions, art installations, performances, science and storytelling.

An artist’s impression of what the Dundee Eden Project could look like. Image: The Eden Project

The Eden Project team – who are responsible for the hugely successful Eden Project attraction in Cornwall – estimate that the Dundee centre will attract half a million visitors a year.

And councillors say the project will bring huge economic benefits to the city and create hundreds of jobs.

But what do Dundonians make of the news?

I headed to Dundee Waterfront to find out.

What do people in Dundee think?

Most people I spoke to were excited about the attraction, saying it would be great for the local community as well as visitors.

However some said they would rather the council focused on solving the city’s drug crisis instead of funding a “vanity project”.

Derek Ritchie, who is enjoying a refreshment break during a cycling trip when I approach him, falls into the former category.

Derek Ritchie is excited to visit the Eden Project in Dundee. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson

He said: “It’s got to be good for Dundee, surely?

“It can’t be a bad thing

“We will definitely be going when it opens up.”

His wife Anne said: “We were just cycling over the Tay Bridge and looking at the V&A and thinking, ‘What a beautiful building it is – how good it is for Dundee’.

“And the Eden Project will be the same.

“It will generate employment for people who stay in Dundee as well”.

‘I can’t wait to take my kids along’

Demi Carver, 29, is watching her kids play in the water fountains when I ask for her views.

The school teaching assistant from Dundee believes it is a great educational opportunity for children.

She said: “I think it is a really good thing for the city, there is so much for the kids to do, so much for the adults.

“It is a really good thing.

There will be educational opportunities for children at the Eden Project Dundee. Image: The Eden Project

“I’ve never been to the one in Cornwall, I wasn’t too sure what it was but then I saw online.

“I’m excited to see what it’s all about.”

The mum-of-two added that she was looking forward to visiting the centre with her own children.

Another individual who thinks the centre is great for children is Dundee doctor Alex Westwater.

Alex Westwater says the centre will attract visitors to Dundee. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson

Sipping on a beer, the 27-year-old said: “I’ve been to the one down in Cornwall and it’s brilliant.

“It is really good for education and school trips.

“There aren’t many outdoor education centres around here so it’s great.

“It is also just another reason for people to visit Dundee”.

‘It is nice to see the area built up more’

Emma Crawford, a nurse from Northern Ireland, also welcomed the news.

She told me: “I’ve been living in Dundee for seven years.

“When I came over here, the V&A was only being built.

Emma Crawford says she will be sure to visit. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson

“So it has been nice to see the area built up more.

“I think the Eden Project will be a good addition.

“I am moving to Australia soon but when I come back to see friends I will go and visit it.”

‘We need to fix Dundee’s drug crisis first’

I get a different perspective from Linda Evans, 20, who is enjoying the sun with a friend when I approach her.

The international relations student at Dundee University said: “What Dundee needs to do it fix the drug problem.

“Spend £130 million on that before some dumb garden.”

Linda added: “You can’t sit on a bench outside in Dundee city centre without someone coming up with a cup and asking you to pay their rent.

“That to me is a problem.

“We need to stop going around the circle and go inside of it.

“Deal with ABC – and then fix XYZ.

“What we don’t need is another vanity project next to the Waterfront.”

An artist’s impression of the proposed Eden Project Dundee. Image: The Eden Project

The budget for Eden Project Dundee will be raised, like V&A Dundee, from a mixture of private and public funds.

The Scottish and UK governments are expected to contribute, as well as Dundee City Council, trusts, foundations and high net worth individuals.

After the build, the model is for the attraction to be self-sufficient.

It is a lot of money to be spending on something that isn’t really a priority.” Rina Pacuku.

Linda’s friend Rina Pacuku, 20, who studies maths and physics a Dundee University, agreed.

“It is a lot of money to be spending on something that isn’t really a priority.

“I’m sure it’s something lovely for families but there are a lot of things that are really bad – there is a housing crisis, there are people who are starving, there are so many people suffering.

“Projects like this which are blind to what is really going on.”

Although details of a budget and timeline are yet to be released by Eden Project bosses, the Dundee attraction is expected to open in 2026.

A separate application to create a pedestrian bridge spanning across East Dock Street and the east coast mainline railway – connecting the centre to the River Tay – will be considered at a later date.

Lifestyle – The Courier