The project has been proposed by British science journalist Michael Hanlon, who is working with business consultancy Wessex Entrepreneurs (WE) to raise funds for the £65 million ($AUD119 million) scheme.
The Jurassica visitor centre would involve covering Yeoland’s Pit – a recently disused 91m wide, 37m deep limestone quarry located in Portland, UK, on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast – with a translucent roof to create a tourist attraction. It would include a subterranean geological park and showcase hundreds of paleontological remains, including dinosaur fossils.
“The space created by the architect will use the natural rock [of the quarry] as a primary design feature,” WE’s website stated.
The proposed visitor centre, which had already secured the support of patron Sir David Attenborough and trustee Sir Tim Smit, has now received £300,000 (almost $AUD550,000) in UK Government funding as well. The funds were allocated as part of a series of regional “Growth Deals”, which aims to support projects that would benefit the local area and economy.
“Getting government support for Jurassica is a major step forward, and shows that the vision of a world-class attraction on the Dorset coast has generated interest and excitement at the highest levels,” Hanlon said.
WE’s Tony Williams added, “Jurassica is a unique opportunity for the overall regeneration of Weymouth and Portland and benefits will flow into the SME community as well as the overall economy at large.”
It appears that the UK Government agrees with this view, as its Dorset Growth Deal release stated: “Dorset’s flagship new Jurassic Coast visitor centre on the Isle of Portland will boost the visitor economy and associated sectors across the south coast as well as creating jobs in its own right.”
According to a report by UK regional newspaper The View, Jurassica could create up to 230 permanent jobs and attract up to 750,000 visitors annually.
The visitor centre is expected to open in 2019.
Sources: UK Cabinet Office, The View, Wessex Entrepreneurs