YORK’S big wheel could stay at its current site for another eight months.
The new owners of the 53-metre high York Wheel have applied to keep it operating when its planning consent comes to an end.
The wheel, in the gardens of the Royal York Hotel, is currently scheduled to be dismantled by the start of next month under the terms of planning permission granted by City of York Council in November, 2011.
But Wheels Entertainments Ltd – which now operates the tourist attraction and other big wheels across the UK – has applied to keep it open until September 30.
It would then be taken down and the site restored to its former condition by the end of November.
The 42-pod York Wheel was owned by Great City Attractions Global (GCAG) at the time it opened in December 2011.
But the company went into administration last July, owing organisations in the city tens of thousands of pounds.
The structure, along with other British wheels previously operated by GCAG, has now been bought by Dubai-based Freij Entertainment International for an undisclosed sum, with Wheels Entertainments acting as the UK arm of its operation.
A planning application submitted to the council by Roger Etchells and Co, the agents for the scheme, said a “number of complaints” had been made since the wheel was erected in the Royal York grounds.
Residents in nearby Westgate Apartments – many of whom objected to the wheel being near their homes when the original proposals emerged – claimed it had interfered with their TV reception. A new aerial has now been installed to address this.
Freij director David Jones said: “We feel York is a viable place to maintain a big wheel and that the city is the right place for an attraction like this.
“We obviously did our homework before we bought the wheels and put forecasts together.
“These forecasts have been achieved and we are confident that will continue, subject to planning permission being granted.
“We have been very sensitive to issues raised by residents when the wheel was originally approved and we will continue to do this.”
In a statement sent to the council, the planning agents said: “The wheel has not had the adverse effects anticipated by many who objected to it at the outset.
“The arrangements for access to the wheel have proved successful and it continues to be an important leisure facility which is popular with visitors and local people alike.”
Tourism body Visit York has welcomed the prospect of the York Wheel operating until September.
Its chief executive, Gillian Cruddas, said: “The wheel has become a popular feature of York’s tourism offer, enjoyed by thousands of visitors and featured in countless publicity photographs.
“We believe the wheel has helped to enhance the international profile of York and has added a new dimension to the cityscape.”