Torquay's big wheel approved

Torbay Weekly

Torquay visitors could be hitting the heights again this summer as planners approved the seafront wheel once again.

The attraction at Torquay Harbour has been a seasonal hit for almost a decade.

Users sit in individual pods and are treated to views over Princess Gardens and Torquay Harbour.

James Mellor Ltd, a Nottingham-based amusement park company, originally made an application for a 50-metre wheel but has since decided to opt for a 33-metre version, the same as last year.

Following a decision by Torbay Council’s planning committee, the operators have been granted permission to run the wheel until the end of October.

As in previous years, the plans to reinstate the wheel stirred mixed responses from councillors and heritage groups.

That’s because the wheel at Princess Gardens is next to a grade-II listed pavilion, war memorial and fountain.

Torbay Heritage Trust said the application should be withdrawn or “unquestionably” refused because of the negative effect it will have on listed assets that surround it.

Speaking at Torbay Council’s planning committee, Councillor Cecelia Brown (Independent, St Peters with St Marys) voiced her disapproval of the location, saying: “I think it’s a great idea, but not on listed property.”

Councillor Chris Lewis (Conservative, Preston) disagreed. He said: “I take the complete opposite view. I think the wheel is superb there. I think we’re very lucky that it’s been back for the last five years.

“That area is a tourist area. You’ve got the pavilion, you’ve got the theatre. We only have it for a few months of the year and thank goodness it came to us.”

Councillor Jack Dart (Lib Dems, Ellacombe) agreed, saying the wheel has become a Torquay landmark in its own right.

To make up for the disruption, the committee approved planning permission subject to a £20,000 ring-fenced fund being paid by the attraction’s operators towards restoring the Princess Gardens’ war memorial.

Officers noted that the previous five-year temporary planning permission secured around £130,000 that funded a restoration of the grade-II listed fountain.

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