Tuesday 17 May 2011

Wheel row rumbles on . . .

View of the Wheel from the west
. .  . this time with a letter in the Argus from the Secretary of the Kingscliffe Society. Like a last rumble from a departing thunderstorm he writes (in italics) that:-

"the project will have wide-ranging implications on the appearance of the East Cliff conservation area, strategic views of the coastline and, crucially, the local residential neighbourhood."

What are these "strategic views"? The wheel will obscure a tiny portion of Kingscliffe when viewed from the Palace Pier and, as a counterpoint to the period architecture, it will surely enhance and enliven the scene. Viewed from the east or west along the coast it will be seen edge-on and hardly noticeable.

"Temporary or permanent, the wheel will likely appear to bear down and intrude on the local area . .  and the decision to allow the project. . . undervalues the impact the scheme will have on plans to regenerate the Terraces." 

It depend on what is meant by "local area" and being that the Wheel is of openwork construction and a football pitch away from the nearest residential properties, its potential to offend by "bearing down" seems rather limited. It is likely to attract substantial numbers to the east of the Pier and almost certainly increase trade in the nearby holiday shops and restaurants, most of whom are in favour of the project.

"Inadequate consideration has been given to the impact the scheme will have."

The application was received by the Planning Department on 16th March and was approved on 27th April. In the interim there was apparently time for the Wheel to be supported by the Conservation Advisory Group and for 64 letters of approval to have been submitted as against 49 of objection. It is difficult to imagine what "adequate consideration" would have consisted of that would have persuaded the Planning Committee to reject the application.

This whole episode reminds one forcibly of the opposition to the London Eye, lead by Norman St.John-Stevas, who feared for the views from or to (I can't remember which) the Houses of Parliament. Since then the Eye has become a hugely popular and admired feature of the London skyline and I venture to guess that any suggestion now for its removal would be met with howls of protest and an instant vociferous campaign of opposition.


  1. Well said. I was living in London before The London Eye was erected and I well remember the staunch protest and rather irrational horror it's creation prompted. As you say, tearing down the London wheel would now be deemed unthinkable by most London residents.
    Unless I am missing something major here, I cannot see that residential privacy will be threatened, or that the Brighton wheel will detract from the view along the front. Surely the inevitable focus on the east side of Palace Pier and it's industry is to be welcomed, particularly in this economic climate. I have had "flights" on the London, Belfast and Paris wheels in autumn and winter; surely a similar extension of the tourist season in Brighton should be embraced?

  2. The only thing you may be missing Gigi is knowledge of the source of most complaints - a vociferous minority living in the area who can't abide the thought of anything new intruding on a view that they seem to regard as a personal right. Along the whole of the seafront, just east of the pier seems a near perfect location for the Wheel and the arguments against are vague, irrational and without substance.

  3. Hi Quedula: I think I do know the vociferous minority you refer to! I agree; this seems to be an old school "I was here first and back in the day we had no need of large hamster-style- wheel-scifi-contraptions blocking out the sea". The view east of Palace Pier is very serene and beautiful. The wheel will be high, but it's infrastructure is open-framed and light; hardly a looming great concrete wall or block for goodness sake! The sea and sky are endless there, and nothing will change that. I think the wheel, rather than being obtrusive, will add a continuity to the front and bring prosperity, family spirit, and pleasure. And isn't that what this city has always been about? :)

  4. As you like the wheel so much...its a great pity you could not have it outside you home for 14 hours a day...imagine the joy you would have.

  5. No I would not like it "outside" my home. But let's face it, unless someone is camping out on Madeira Drive, it won't be outside anyone's home.

  6. I would like it outside your or just near enough to be a complete pain...and I would like it outside the homes of all the Councillors who voted for it...Im sure you realise that none of them live anywhere near the Wheel.
    Why was it not placed outside the Odeon or the Brighton Centre, then no residents would have been affected.


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