Fertile mind - Eden Project founder Tim Smit_ guest speaker at

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Fertile mind - Eden Project founder Tim Smit_ guest speaker at Powered By Docstoc
					               Fertile mind
                Eden Project
                founder Tim Smit,
                guest speaker at
                this week’s UK
                Housing Awards,
                has turned his
                attention to
                Amena Saleem
                finds out what he
                has to offer

               The Eden Project has given a huge boost to south-west            says Ian Shepherd, business editor of the Cornish Guardian,     nearly £500 million to the local economy and created 500
               England’s tourist appeal, inspiring millions of visitors with    who was responsible for setting up the forum.                   jobs, Mr Smit is directing his energy and drive to ‘doing
               its pioneering spirit and ecological message.                       Council housing chiefs, MPs, developers and housing          something about it’.
                   Now founder Tim Smit is bringing the innovative              association representatives were among those taking part           His projects include a collaboration with Ocean Housing
               thinking and can-do spirit that created Eden to bear on the      in the series of discussions.                                   to look at potential schemes relating to sustainable
               region’s housing problems.                                          ‘There were 28 people, all with their own agendas on         development.
                   Just six years after doodling his ideas for Eden’s giant     this issue, but out of this Tim produced something very            Ian Blackhouse, head of marketing at Ocean, says:
               glass-domed conservatories on the back of a napkin, Mr           dynamic,’ says Mr Shepherd. ‘He was able to reconcile, in       ‘Tim’s green credentials are very much to the fore, and
               Smit had turned his dream into an £86 million reality.           a very constructive way, the different interests of different   he’s very keen to see some movement which will take
               In March 2001, the project – home to plants from across          people and identify a common objective.’                        sustainable development to a new level.’
               the globe – opened on the site of a derelict clay quarry in         Among the ideas suggested to the Office of the Deputy           Mr Smit’s success in creating the Eden Project, as well
               south-east Cornwall.                                             Prime Minister by the forum was that anyone wanting to          as the nearby Lost Gardens of Heligan, proves he can bring
                   The venture, which Mr Smit entered into with his then        buy a Cornish cottage as a second home should have to           useful qualities to housing, says Mr Blackhouse.
               business partner Jonathan Ball, has defied seemingly             apply for a change of use.                                         ‘With both those projects he was able to bring together
               insurmountable financial and practical odds. Located on a           This reflects the problems of Cornish people who earn        a whole range of people from the public and private sector,
               once-polluted site thought to be unusable, Eden has become       some of the lowest incomes in the country but are faced with    and act as the catalyst to make things happen,’ he says. ‘In
               one of Britain’s most successful regeneration projects.          some of its highest house prices thanks to the popularity of    the housing sector, that’s a useful attribute at the moment.’
                   ‘He’s a great man for leading people, focusing on            holiday homes and retirement cottages in the county.               Mr Shepherd agrees. ‘He’s willing to venture into areas
               priorities and making things happen,’ says Paul Tyler,              It is a problem that Mr Smit is keen to address. In          which aren’t safe and cosy, he’s willing to look at ideas
               Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall.                          September he unveiled a model of an eco-friendly home           that are very novel,’ he says. ‘He’s not a plodder – he’s the
                   For the last 18 months, Mr Smit has been working with        designed by Cornish architects, ZEDfactory. The project won     creative person who comes up with inspirational ideas.’
               Mr Tyler and other interested parties, including housing         a competition run by the Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust       Inspiration and co-operation appear to be the two key
               associations and builders, to examine different ways of          to create a practical, affordable home for Cornwall.            themes. Mr Smit’s philosophy for Eden was to make ‘no
               building and managing affordable homes.                             At the unveiling, held at the Eden Project, Mr Smit told     apology for wanting to bring people of differing opinions
                   He also chaired a forum brought together by his local        those watching: ‘I am really pleased with this. There has       together, if in doing so we find solutions that will improve
               newspaper, the Cornish Guardian, that earlier this year          been a lot of talk about affordable housing and it has been     all our lives and make the world a better place for all living
               delivered a list of suggestions to housing minister Keith Hill   something that politicians like to talk a lot about, but do     things.

               on ways to deal with the county’s housing crisis.                nothing about.’                                                    ‘Wouldn’t we all rather look back and say I’m glad I did
                   ‘I have no doubt that he’s passionate about this subject,’      In Cornwall, where the Eden Project has contributed          rather than I wish I had?’
                                                                                                                                                                         12 November 2004 Inside Housing 25

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