Big wheel plans for Prom

A big wheel outside Liverpool's Echo Arena similar to the one planned for Blackpool.
A big wheel outside Liverpool's Echo Arena similar to the one planned for Blackpool.
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A 60-metre high ferris wheel could be the newest addition to Blackpool’s skyline if plans revealed today are given the go ahead.

Staffordshire-based company Wheels Entertainment Ltd wants to install a wheel on the headland just north of South Pier.

It has applied to Blackpool Council for a five-year planning permission for the attraction which would be almost twice as high as the resort’s existing big wheel.

The ride would be similar to big wheels the company already operates in cities including Liverpool and York.

Passengers would enjoy panoramic views from 42 enclosed observation capsules.

But the operator of Blackpool’s existing ferris wheel has warned the new ride could “kill off” his attraction.

The Central Pier wheel, which has been there since 1990, has just been re-assembled following a £300,000 refurbishment.

Operator Peter Sedgwick said: “It would kill Central Pier dead if the council allows this to go ahead.

“Our wheel is an icon of Blackpool.

“We want new attractions which are different to what we already have here, not things which are the same.”

Agents for the applicant say the proposed wheel would fit in well with Blackpool’s existing tourist offer.

They believe the new wheel would be an added attraction which would draw in more visitors to the benefit of other venues and shops as well.

In a statement, they say: “It is a use which fits well with the many roles of the Promenade and adds to the concentration of facilities in the South Shore area in accordance with the council’s aspirations.”

The planning statement adds: “This kind of wheel has proved to be a popular feature in both resorts and larger city centres.

“The applicants currently have wheels in York, Liverpool and Plymouth but they have also operated successfully elsewhere including in Brighton, Weston-Super-Mare and in the city centres of Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Sheffield and Derby.”

Similar wheels have a capacity of eight people per capsule, with each ride typically taking between 10 to 12 minutes, or three revolutions.

Two years ago a ferris wheel was installed in St John’s Square for Easter, but planned returns later in the same summer and during the Illuminations were scrapped because it failed to attract enough punters.

That ride had 24 gondolas and was 33 metres high.

Between 1896 and 1928 Blackpool’s original big wheel sat on the corner of Adelaide Street and Coronation Street.

In 2007 attractions operator Norman Wallis was given planning permission for a big wheel on Central Car Park but the scheme never went ahead.

The latest bid will now go before Blackpool Council planners for consideration at a future date.

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