CONSERVATIONISTS have opposed plans to move York’s big wheel to a riverside location in the city centre.

Representatives of both York Conservation Trust and York Civic Trust voiced concern over the possibility of the Yorkshire Wheel moving from the National Railway Museum to the gardens in North Street.

The concerns were raised as John Lowry, senior operations manager for World Tourist Attractions, confirmed the company intended moving the wheel when the current planning permission at the museum runs out next January.

He said the company hoped to submit a planning application for the North Street site – which would give the wheel a riverside location like that enjoyed by the London Eye – within four weeks.

But Philip Thake, chief executive of the conservation trust, said: “I think it would spoil the riverside frontage there.

“Our river is not as big as the Thames, and we have not got the vast buildings London has got.”

He said Norwich Union may also be unhappy with the wheel being so near its office, and the trust itself would have concerns over the loss of views from some of its buildings in North Street. He said York should use its river frontage more, and Mr Thake called for a walkway between Lendal Bridge and Ouse Bridge, but said putting the wheel next to the river would spoil views to the back of the Guildhall.

Peter Brown, secretary of the civic trust, said: “To compare it with the London Eye being opposite the Houses of Parliament is a bit mischievous, because that’s about 200 metres away and our river is really narrow. It would be overpowering and have a domineering effect on the whole environment.”

He said the civic trust had been happy to accept the wheel in its current location, and thought its “technological nature” made the NRM a logical choice of venue.

Conservative leader Ian Gillies, who is also a director of tourism body Visit York, said the wheel had been good for York, and he hoped it would stay somewhere in the city.

He said: “I would support them if they found an appropriate site. It has become a distinctive part of the city’s skyline and if they find an appropriate site, I would support it.”

The wheel opened at the museum in April 2006.