Cambridge agrees to giant tourism wheel staying

Cambridge's latest tourist attraction has won permission for five years.

Cambridge's latest tourist attraction has won permission for five years. - Credit: City View Wheel Company

A 36 metres tall observation wheel will return to Cambridge for the next four years, despite complaints. 

A planning application to allow the ride to return to Parkers Piece for the next four summers was approved by the city council. 

The wheel now has permission to be based on Parkers Piece between March 22, and September 10, and to be open to the public between April 1, and August 31, for the next four years. 

It will be in place for a shorter period of time this year, due to planning permission being granted in June. 

The plans had been objected to by the city council conservation officer, who raised concerns over the ride’s impact on the heritage of the area. 

However, planning officers had stated that as the wheel would be temporary, the harm would therefore be temporary, and that the economic benefits were considered to outweigh any harm. 

Over 80 objections were submitted, with one describing the wheel as an “abomination”. 

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Another questioned the tourism benefit, highlighting the high number of other tourist attractions in Cambridge that have now reopened. 

Cllr Tim Bick said: “We have seen the observation wheel in place and it is not especially popular or inclusive. 

“‘Temporary’ is a misnomer when you put the wheel’s presence together with its repeated aftermath. 

“A huge structure like this in the middle of the open and uncluttered expanse flies directly in the face of Parkers Piece’s conservation plan. 

“It might be reasonable for a week – although that is obviously impracticable given the structure involved – but what is proposed represents a permanent [impact], which just does not and should not fit there, and the ritual damage is disproportionate to any benefit.” 

Kevin Sherwood, from Sherwood Architects, said: “The records that we have from bookings show there were over 70,000 visitors who actually used the wheel. 

“There were wedding proposals, there were birthday celebrations, the oldest person who actually visited it was a 98-year-old lady.” 

Cllr Dave Baigent said he was not convinced by the objections. 

He said: “I think it is a jolly good idea, that doesn’t do any harm to the look of Parkers Piece at all.” 

Cllr Martin Smart said he felt the “roundness” of the wheel “contrasted nicely”.