Torquay big wheel approved by unanimous verdict

A planning committee has approved an application for a big wheel in Torbay for 2024.

The wheel has been a feature of Torquay seafront's summer landscape for more than a decade.

Planning officers advised councillors to reject the wheel's application because it would be sited next to a war memorial and in a conservation area.

However, Torbay Council's Planning Committee voted unanimously to approve the attraction.

'Identified conservation area'

Operator Mellors applies annually for permission to install the big wheel.

This year it applied to put up the wheel, ticket office and catering unit in the council-owned Princess Gardens, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Planning officers had recommended it be refused because the proposed location in the Torquay Harbour Conservation Area was "sensitive" and next to a listed war memorial and fountain.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Rob Palmer, Torbay Council's principal historic environment officer, said the development would not "enhance" the area.

He said: "The proposals in their current form would neither preserve nor enhance the character or appearance of the identified conservation area."


Deputy Leader of Torbay Council, councillor Chris Lewis said the wheel was an "iconic part of Torquay".

He said: "The wheel has been with us since 2012 and I'd hate to see it go, it is Torbay's wheel of fortune.

"It does bring in a lot of money, heritage is important to Torbay but some things outweigh that heritage and I think the wheel does that by being an iconic part of Torquay now."

Carolyn Custerson, chief executive of The English Riviera BID Company said she "couldn't understand the recommendation" to reject the application.

"Our tourism economy is worth £500m. Our success is down to having this wonderful range of attractions, places to stay and things to do," she said.

"The wheel has become an iconic attraction and the number of photos shared worldwide on social media has brought people from all over to come here and enjoy the seafront and the harbour because of the wheel.

"I think the wheel will always be there, but what we need to spend more time on is understanding the heritage concerns and making sure that they are mitigated and we address them much earlier than we have this year."

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