Brighton Wheel morphs and opens
The Brighton Wheel, also known as the Brighton O and, most recently, as the Wheel of Excellence, opened for business in October – and the name is not the only alteration to its approved specification.
The one in place is not the 45-metre skeleton wheel described in the original planning application (the Brighton O) but a chunkier version, which has previously seen service in Paris and Cape Town and stands 50 metres above sea level at Dalton’s Bastion and the edge of the beach, off Madeira Drive in front of the Aquarium Terrace. The original lighting plan, which featured flashing lights and lighting on the struts, has also been modified after strong protests from local campaigners.
Historic railings have been removed to make way for it and the Regency Society has been in touch with the council to make sure that they are being stored securely and in appropriate conditions, so they can be reinstated when the wheel, which has only temporary planning permission until May 2016, is removed. The operators, local company Paramount, must also take measures to reduce noise and improve public transport to the site.
The £6 million wheel has 36 enclosed, glass pods, each of which up to six adults and two children – when full, that translates into 288 people. Paramount have scaled back proposed opening hours – originally every day of the year between 10am and midnight – to 10am to 11pm in peak season. A trip consisting of three revolutions of the wheel will take approximately 12 minutes and will be, say Paramount, “A sky voyage of Brighton and Hove”.
Council landlord consent means that, if the rival i360 is built at the West Pier, the wheel must be taken down.
The Regency Society was among objectors to the development, citing its overbearing scale in a residential and conservation area and the danger of setting a precedent that could allow large-scale funfair rides to encroach on the unspoiled beaches east of Brighton Pier.
The Brighton Wheel website is at www.brightonwheel.com
See local campaigners' views at www.kemptown.org/madwheel
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