A BIG wheel is set to return to York after plans were announced to site the huge tourist attraction in the Museum Gardens.
The 60-metre high wheel would offer stunning views of York Minster, the city centre, the River Ouse and St Mary’s Abbey in the gardens.
It would also provide a huge boost to the city’s crucial tourism sector – particularly the evening economy, as the wheel is set to stay open until 10pm.
A planning application for a three-year stay will be submitted next week to City of York Council by York Museums Trust and wheel operators Great City Attractions (GCA). If permission is granted, the wheel should be carrying passengers by next Easter.
Some of the profits from the wheel will go to the Trust, which will put the money towards a proposed £6 million revamp and expansion of York Art Gallery. Those plans, which would probably require lottery funding, include an extension into adjacent rooms occupied by the City Archives, which are moving elsewhere.
The wheel is set to be sited on a hidden area of land behind York Art Gallery, where derelict former Canadian air force huts are currently situated and would need to be demolished.
It will be similar to the one which was sited at the National Railway Museum between 2006 and 2008, which attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors.
The structure will be subtly lit with white lights and virtually silent in operation, and have 21 fully enclosed, air conditioned and heated capsules seating up to eight people each.
Visitors will be able to listen to a commentary about the views they can see and the history of the city, said trust chief executive Janet Barnes.
She said a new entrance would be created from Exhibition Square along the side of the gallery building, with access also provided from the abbey area.
She said the development was in line with the trust’s aims of connecting up the various buildings in the area to create what had been termed a “cultural quarter”.
A spokesman for GCA said it was the world’s leading owner and operator of giant observation wheels, and it was “really excited” about having one once again in York.