Brighton Wheel to appeal after planners rule out extended stay

Posted On 24 Jun 2015 at 6:48 pm

The owner of the Brighton Wheel intends to appeal after an application to stay open for another five years was turned down by planners.

The seafront attraction has temporary permission to operate at Dalton’s Bastion, by the Palace Pier, until Thursday 19 May next year.

It wanted the temporary permission extended until May 2021.

Some members of the Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee said that a one or two-year extension might be acceptable during a meeting at Portslade Town Hall.

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Brighton Wheel 20111013But when a vote was taken on the principle of extending the Wheel’s stay, six members voted against it, with only four in favour. Two abstained.

Planning consultant Ian Coomber, of Stiles Harold Williams, said afterwards that the Wheel’s owner, Paramount Entertainments, would appeal at the earliest opportunity.

He pointed out that planning officials had recommended that the Wheel be allowed to remain.

Earlier, he told the committee that the Wheel employed 50 staff on a stretch of the seafront that was in need of regeneration.

One of the committee members, Jim Gowans, from the Conservation Advisory Group, said: “The Wheel is bright and breezy and one might even say cheap and cheerful in some respects.”

But Councillor Maggie Barradell said: “I feel very strongly that the residents thought that their five years were up.

“They have been living with that thing and were on a countdown until the five years were up.

“People who live there have the right to know whether it will be temporary or permanent.

“It will affect the value of their homes and whether they choose to live there or move.”

Other councillors questioned how long a building or structure had to be in place to be regarded as permanent, including former Planning Committee chairman Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty.

Councillor Leo Littman said: “I’m quite a fan of the Wheel and I’ve even been on it a couple of times.”

Ian Coomber

Ian Coomber

But local people had the expectation that the Wheel would be in place for just five years, he said.

He added: “At the time (of the original planning application), we were told that it had never stayed five years anywhere else on the planet.”

Councillor Lee Wares said: “I am struggling with when temporary permission becomes permanent permission.”

He said that there was a danger that the committee would be granting just a stay of execution and said: “The development is not considered suitable for permanent permission. It concerns me that this could be a temporary permission in perpetuity.”

Councillor Joe Miller said: “I have to disagree with Councillor Littman. Unfortunately I’ve been on it once and I thought it was a bit underwhelming.”

He said that the Wheel detracted from the Aquarium, the Palace Pier, Volk’s Railway and the seafront architecture.

“If you want permanent permission, please do go for it,” he said. “But I don’t think we can keep granting temporary permission.”

Councillor Carol Theobald said: “I do actually like the look of the Wheel but I am concerned that it is underused. Perhaps if it was cheaper it wouldn’t be underused.

“The residents who live near the Wheel find it quite intrusive especially when it’s lit up at night.

“Originally it was going to be at the West Pier and – if it was – it would have been gone by now.

“Five years is a very long time without an environmental impact assessment.”

Councillor Penny Gilbey

Councillor Penny Gilbey

Councillor Penny Gilbey, who chaired the meeting, said that she was confused by suggestions that the appearance was harmful.

“I look at the London Eye,” she said, “and everyone agrees it’s iconic now.”

The Wheel, she said, looked good next to the Palace Pier.

A report to the Planning Committee said: “The reason for the temporary permission given on the decision notice reads: The development is not considered suitable as a permanent form of

development, to safeguard the visual amenity of the area, to ensure the future strategic planning of the seafront is not undermined and to allow the impact of the proposal to be monitored.”

It also said that 180,000 people went on the Wheel during its second year of operation and added: “It is acknowledged that the Wheel has not proved to be as popular as thought originally.

“However, even if the case is overstated, it is difficult to argue that the Wheel does not have a positive benefit to tourism and provides jobs.”

The reasons given for turning down the Wheel’s application to remain in place for five more years included the detrimental impact that councillors felt that it had on residents living near by.

They also said that granting a temporary consent would not support the regeneration of the seafront.

And, they said, the Wheel’s height, size, scale and design failed to preserve the setting of the local conservation area and the harm would not be outweighed by the economic benefits.

While the rival i360 was mentioned in the official report, and was clearly a factor in the discussions five years ago, it was not a valid planning consideration, the committee was told.

So councillors mostly confined their questions and deliberations to the Wheel itself and its impact on the surrounding area.

The Wheel’s owner is expected to appeal as soon as possible, with less than a year to run before its planning permission expires.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    The Wheel apart, it is interesting to find that two meetings of the Committee into the new Administration, Penny Gilbey is Chairing it. This could be the real story.

  2. saveHOVE Reply

    I predict an Appeal will succeed because cllrs contradicted the council’s reasons for the original consent.

    They’ve been intimidated by the i360 bullies IMHO and concern for the PWLB loan – against the wider needs of the city economy and tourism offer.

    The wheel looks great from the Palace Pier and enhances the historic context behind and in front if it.

    That shiny steel silo in its dockyard setting does the reverse. It’s very sad.

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