Top-level support for return of York's big wheel
ONE of York’s culture bosses has backed plans to bring a big wheel back to the city, saying it will be a major boost for tourism and the local skyline.
A joint scheme by the Science Museum Group, which runs the National Railway Museum (NRM), and Freij International would see a 50.5-metre observation wheel installed in the main car park of the Leeman Road tourist attraction.
A planning application for the scheme has been submitted to City of York Council.
If the proposals are approved, it would remain there for three years, although its stay could be extended if it proves a success.
York’s first big wheel was based at the NRM between 2006 and 2008 and later returned to the grounds of the Royal York Hotel, but was dismantled last year after the council said any request to keep it there for longer was unlikely to succeed.
In an email to planning officials, Charlie Croft, the authority’s assistant director for communities, culture and public realm, said: “The wheel has been an excellent addition to York’s visitor attractions, much liked by both visitors and residents.
“It has created an association with the image of York, becoming part of the iconography of the York skyline.
“It is a significant part of York’s visitor offer with a particular impact on regional day visitors, and, as such, is a contributor to York’s economy.”
Mr Croft said the NRM had already shown it could host a big wheel “with considerable success”, and it had led to the attraction’s visitor numbers rising when it was based there previously.
He said: “There are very few available sites to host the wheel in central locations and it is encouraging that this site has come forward.
“I would support the return of the wheel as an important visitor attraction and leisure amenity.
The NRM wheel would have 42 gondolas, each with space for six people, and six jobs would be created.
Freij has said other potential sites in the city have been considered, including North Street Gardens and Monks Cross.
A decision on whether it returns could be made next month.
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