8:20am Sunday 24th April 2011
By Tim Ridgway
Tourism bosses believe a giant seafront attraction will give the city a “fantastic boost”.
About 250,000 people a year are expected to get a bird’s eye view of the city on the 45metre high ride known as the Brighton Wheel.
Following weeks of discussions, neighbours, businesses and conservation groups are split over whether developer Paramount Attractions should be given planning permission to set up in Madeira Drive, Brighton.
But, after examining all the arguments, planners at Brighton and Hove City Council believe the proposal should get the go-ahead for a maximum of five years.
A decision on the £6 million privately-backed proposal will be taken at a town hall meeting next week.
Adam Bates, the council’s head of tourism, said: “Exciting new attractions like this only come along once in a while, especially with the funds to back them.
“We think this will give the tourist industry in Brighton and Hove a fantastic boost.”
If approved, the attraction will create 30 jobs and accommodate up to 288 people with a complete revolution taking about 11 to 12 minutes.
Opening hours will be 10am to midnight 365 days a year with the wheel illuminated at night.
Mark Jones, chairman of Brighton and Hove Hotels Association, has also backed the plans along with letters from 64 residents.
But 49 neighbours have opposed the plans citing as reasons excessive opening hours, loss of privacy and an increase in antisocial behaviour.
Their points are backed by a petition from a further 39 residents from the nearby The Van Alen Building in Marine Parade, Brighton.
The influential group the Regency Society has also objected to the proposal but the council’s Conservation Advisory Group loosely supports it.
Paramount claim a recent survey showed 99% of businesses close to the wheel are in favour.
Karen Howkins, director at Paramount, said: “Many local businesses we spoke to are counting on this new attraction for Brighton to help attract visitors, boost visitor spend and support the local economy, as well as to help regenerate the surrounding area and help increase footfall.”
Town hall planners recommend it be approved providing £25,000 is provided to improve cycling provision in the area.
They also recommend a strict agreement is signed between the authority and developer to ensure the structure is removed after a maximum of five years.
Council landlord consent also means if the rival i360 at Brighton’s West Pier is built then the wheel must be taken down.
The planning committee meeting will take place at 2pm on Wednesday in Hove Town Hall.
For more details visit www.brightonwheel.com.
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