Plymouth to decide whether to keep the Hoe's Big Wheel
PLANNING chiefs are to consider an application to retain the city's landmark Big Wheel on the Hoe.
The application, from Wheels Entertainment Ltd, based in Staffordshire, has been sent to Plymouth City Council's planning department, requesting the retention of the 53m high observation wheel along with associated buildings and catering unit "until February 28, 2014".
The application states there will be 20 full-time workers and 10 part-time workers. It also notes the wheel will operate 10am to 10pm, seven days a week including Bank Holidays.
The application is backed by a study by chartered surveyors Roger Etchells and Co who state: "During its operating term the wheel has been widely acknowledged to have been a considerable enhancement to Plymouth's tourism, retail, hospitality and city centre offering.
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"If extended, this advantage would be extended."
Planning permission was initially approved in October 2011 and subsequently renewed until the end of 2012.
In January The Herald reported on how English Heritage said it had no objection to the tourist attraction being sited throughout 2012 as long as it did not become a more permanent fixture.
The organisation, which exists to protect and promote England's spectacular historic environment and ensure its past is researched and understood, said it was keen nothing detracted from the historically important Citadel or the Hoe's war memorials.
However, in the study by Roger Etchells and Co, they found the wheel may have brought more attention to the historical features on the Hoe.They wrote: "It may be that it has enhanced the public's appreciation of them by providing a different perspective (viewed from the wheel) and by attracting members of the public who might not otherwise have visited the Hoe."
The 53-metre high structure is now owned by Freij World Attractions, the world's biggest fun fair company, which wants to continue running it in Plymouth, provided it is financially viable. The wheel had originally arrived in the city in 2011, and was granted planning permission to keep turning until the end of 2012.
But it had a mixed summer, last year, which saw it hit by wet weather and former operator, Birmingham's Great City Attractions Global Limited, falling into administration and ceasing trading in August.
Shipley Investments brought in another operator, The Hall Organisation Ltd, to run it. But it closed again and was due to be dismantled prior to being removed and the land restored to its previous condition.
However, when Freij took control it immediately said it wanted the wheel to stay.
The application is expected to be decided by delegated decision by April 16.