YORK'S new big wheel will be up and running in time for Christmas – and work on putting it up is set to start within ten days.

Great City Attractions Global (GCAG) won approval from City of York Council on Thursday to site the 53-metre observation wheel in the grounds of the Royal York Hotel, after three previous attempts to find a new home for it failed.

The company's plans were given the go-ahead despite opposition from residents of the neighbouring Westgate apartments, who claimed it would be an intrusion. Tourism bosses have said the return of the wheel – which was based at the National Railway Museum until 2008 – will boost York's visitor economy.

The wheel that is to come to York is currently based in Dublin, but is now being dismantled. Great City Attractions are aiming for it to be open for business in York in the week following Saturday, December 10.

It will be allowed to operate until January 2013.

A spokesman for the operators said they were delighted with the decision.

“We are looking forward to opening the wheel for a second time in the city of York and working with tourism organisations, businesses and local communities to ensure it will be a big success for all involved,” he said.

“GCAG is currently in the process of dismantling the wheel in Dublin in order to bring it to York, and work on the York site should commence in the next seven to ten days.”

The company said construction work on the York wheel should take about a week, weather permitting.

It would have 42 pods and the capacity to carry 1,000 people an hour.

The operators had previously sought permission to locate the attraction in North Street Gardens, St George's Field car park and next to the Museum Gardens before focusing their attention on the hotel’s grounds.

York Press: The Press - Comment

Welcome return

YORK’S Big Wheel is coming back to town, and will be here in time for Christmas.

What a turn-up for the books. For a while it seemed the wheel would never return.

After planners agreed to allow it in the gardens of the Royal York Hotel for a year, the operators moved swiftly. It should be open by mid-December.

Many people will be delighted. The wheel has its detractors, not least some of those living nearby. But it will be a wonderful addition to the Christmas fun, and a major tourist draw. The council is right to allow it only for a year. But who knows, by January 2013 it may be widely accepted as a welcome part of the York skyline.

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