An artist's impression of how the wheel will look
Developers have announced plans to build Europe’s tallest observation wheel in Newcastle, in a project that would see more than £100m invested in the city and up to 550 jobs created.
The observation wheel - dubbed ‘The Whey Aye’ in celebration of its location – will be five metres taller than the London Eye at 140m.
The wheel will also feature a 10,000 sq m LED digital screen as its centre piece, which will be used to communicate information about local culture and events as well as social media content and advertising.
It is proposed that the wheel is built on the location of the former Spillers’ Flour Mill, which was demolished in 2011.
The plans include a pedestrianised experience featuring premium bars and restaurants and a world-leading 9,000 sq m visitor attraction called the Giants of the North Experience. Featuring cutting-edge virtual mixed reality and interactive technology, the attraction will hail the achievements of the region’s famous creative and sporting individuals, and the collective giants of North East industry including ship builders and the mining community.
The plans were announced by the World Wheel Company which has built and operated giant observation wheels and family entertainment centres around the world.
With its head office in Hong Kong, China, World Wheel Company has established a base in Newcastle on Leazes Park Road, from where the design, construction and operation of the new developments on the Quayside will be managed.
A detailed planning application relating to the wheel and visitor attractions is due to be submitted to Newcastle City Council later this year by World Wheel Company.
The plans have already gained endorsements from Newcastle and England football legend, Alan Shearer. He said: “I think it would be great news for Newcastle. It’s just what the city needs. A new iconic attraction that celebrates our rich history and culture, while creating jobs and income for the people. A development like this would have my full support.”
Prominent North East businessman and co-founder of accountancy software company The Sage Group, Graham Wylie said: “‘Should this new development get planning approval, it will deliver a new iconic landmark for the City and any project that delivers real job opportunities of this scale, regenerates a disused part of the Quayside and generates income to the city has to be a good idea. This is potentially great news for Newcastle.”
The wheel will offer 30-minute ‘flights’ and there are plans to accommodate more than 800,000 visitors in its first year. The entire development will only take 18 to 24 months to build, once planning has been formally approved.
Commenting on the proposals, Phil Lynagh, chief executive officer of World Wheel Company’s Newcastle operation, said: “This is without doubt one of the most exciting investment and regeneration projects in the UK, if not the world.
“Representing an overall investment of more than £100m, it will create up to 550 local jobs and deliver local building contracts worth in excess of £20m. The developments will attract continued investment through more visitors spending an increased amount of time in the city and the region.”
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