Decision due on Brighton Wheel

Posted On 26 Apr 2011 at 11:12 pm

Brighton seafront could have a new attraction if councillors approve plans for a giant wheel at a meeting tomorrow (Wednesday 27 April).

The Brighton Wheel is expected to attract up to 250,000 visitors a year, according to Paramount, the company behind the plans.

The 150ft (45m) high ferris wheel would be on the seafront side of the Terraces and Aquarium complex in Madeira Drive, just to the east of the Palace Pier.

Members of the Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee are being advised to grant permission for the wheel.

Work would be expected to start soon if planning permission is granted.

Paramount said that the wheel would have 36 gondolas, each holding up to six adults and two children or up to 288 people in total for a ride lasting 11 to 12 minutes.

Commentaries will be available about the panoramic views, including the area’s stunning Regency architecture.

Limited

After talks with council planning staff, the application is for the wheel to be limited to operating for five years only.

The council does not want the wheel to adversely affect the i360 Brighton Eye observation tower which already has planning permission for a site by the West Pier.

The company has applied to operate the wheel from 10am to midnight each day but the planning committee is being advised to impose an 11pm finish as a condition of approval.

The council’s design and conservation team said in a report to the planning committee: “This is an area of amusements and fairground rides where a new visitor attraction could well complement both the fairground on the pier and the role of Madeira Drive as an ‘events’ space.”

The economic development team said: “The observation wheel will provide an additional tourist attraction for the city enhancing the city’s offer as a tourist destination.

“The applicant states that once erected, the facility will provide employment opportunities for 30 jobs which is welcomed.”

Visit Brighton, the tourism service, said: “We welcome all new attractions and ideas in the city and the application has merit in terms of bringing a new and different attraction to the city, the location for visitors is ideal as the seafront is in an area our visitors are familiar with.

“It would also help to drive our visitors further along the seafront towards the marina.”

Paramount is likely to be asked to pay £25,000 to help improve the surrounding area for cyclists and pedestrians as a condition of its planning permission.

Opposition

The company previously applied to put up a 180ft (60m) wheel known as the Brighton O next to the shore end of the West Pier.

After significant opposition, it withdrew the application in February.

Dozens of people have objected to the present plans, most of them living near the council-owned site.

Their concerns include the loss of their views, loss of privacy and potential noise problems.

Valerie Paynter, of Save Hove, is among those to have written in support of the application, which she said the Brighton Society also supports.

She said: “The Brighton Wheel would sit squarely within a centre for entertainment and amusements.

“Best of all, this temporary wheel offers an opportunity to test the waters as the council works towards creating a seafront strategy/planning brief for this area.

“It is a win-win situation for the city, the economy, seafront regeneration and many of us would love for this wheel to replace the i360 which is planned for the old West Pier entrance area.

“It is to be much welcomed.”

Shortly before granting landlord’s consent to Paramount, the council’s cabinet member for culture Councillor David Smith said: “Such an attraction could help sustain visitors which is crucial in a recession.

“People coming to the wheel could be expected to spend their money in neighbouring businesses as well.

“It has potential to put to good use an otherwise vacant part of the seafront.”

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