YORK’S big wheel may have turned for the last time, after police, environmental officials and hundreds of residents objected to the latest proposal.
North Yorkshire Police said a big wheel in St George’s Field car park would distract motorists, leading to accidents on the inner ring road.
The force is among more than 225 objectors to a planning application by World Tourist Attractions (WTA), which wants to put a 60-metre structure in the car park for three months.
It follows the removal of a similar one at the National Railway Museum (NRM) last November, and the rejection of a planned replacement in North Street Gardens, beside the Park Inn Hotel.
By yesterday, City of York Council had received objections from 226 residents, including block objections from the companies that manage the flats at Postern Close and Clementhorpe.
Yorkshire and Humberside MEP Godfrey Bloom has also objected, saying he has been contacted by anxious constituents, while Steve Burrell, of the police traffic management department at Fulford Road in York, said the wheel would be a traffic hazard.
Police voiced similar concerns at the previous sites, but said it would be a particular problem at St George’s Field.
“The wheel will distract drivers using a busy section of road with stop-start traffic,” said a spokesman. “This distraction would create a traffic danger with rear-end shunts being a very real possibility.”
He said this was not an issue when the wheel was at the NRM, as traffic was more free-flowing.
City of York Council’s own environment, conservation and flooding experts have also called for the idea to be shelved. The riverside car park is on a flood plain, and has been under water on 98 days in the past decade.
Mike Taverner, the council’s structure and drainage project manager, said any development in that area should be water-related, such as boatyards.
He said: “I cannot support this application, as it contravenes the council’s policy document.”
Environment and conservation officials said the wheel should be moved to protect a nearby hedge.
Among the residents who objected were Hilary and Gordon Jones. In a written objection, they wrote: “The huge scale of this wheel is totally inappropriate to this central and historic area. The huge and unsightly structure would destroy the privacy of residents and the River Ouse would become a second Blackpool.”
Some said funfairs in the car park caused distress and said the wheel would cause similar problems.
Another local resident, Ian Wolstencroft, said: “How can the council as a whole be serious about the possibility of York becoming a World Heritage Site and yet even consider the siting of such an inappropriate development within the city?”
York Civic Trust said it was happy for the wheel to go in the car park for three months, but said the car park had the status of a village green, meaning permanent structures were not allowed.
WTA declined to comment on the objections when contacted by The Press yesterday.