Councillors ‘Call-in’ Observation Wheel Plan

Lib Dem City Centre Councillors Katie Porrer and Tim Bick, have ‘called in’ the planning application for the Observation Wheel to be pitched on Parker’s Piece. It will now be decided in the open by the full planning committee rather than just by planning officers, allowing the public point of view to be put and councillors to decide the matter.

The application would see the Observation Wheel, which was on Parker’s Piece for much of last year, returning for 5 months in each of the next 5 years. The councillors are opposing the plans and are encouraging residents to write in with their opinion.

They are critical of the city council for surrendering control over the public open space to the planning system which is not able to consider all aspects of the Observation Wheel proposal.

Cllr Katie Porrer said:

“We accepted the wheel last year as a trial in the special circumstances of the pandemic and in the absence of other events on Parker’s Piece. City centre businesses thought it would give them a much-needed boost.

“But last year has shown us that the number of customers were few when compared to the wheel’s massive physical presence on the Piece. Its high prices were not at all inclusive for many city residents and it’s the kind of experience that makes repeated use rather unlikely. Furthermore, the footprint of the wheel’s base has left the worst scarring of the grass and ground surface that we have seen – and this is still starkly visible today, despite considerable treatment.

“We don’t feel that 5 months’ domination of the open space by the Observation Wheel for 5 years is appropriate, given the other events that will return this year, and the fact that many residents enjoy the character of Parker’s Piece between periodic day or weekend events in its simple, green, uncluttered condition.

“If this application was permitted, the wheel would become a virtual fixture for the entire spring and summer for the foreseeable future. We just don’t think it fits.

“It is a big disappointment to us that the city council seems willing to offer a letting contract to any contractor like this if only they get planning permission for themselves, and does not take responsibility for safeguarding the basic fabric of the open space or for selecting activities and events which make sense for local people and respect the context of Parkers Piece."

The planning application can be accessed here: The reference is 22/00801/FUL.

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