It will initially just be in place for this summer
A 34m big wheel is set to tower above the golden sands of Dawlish Warren this summer.
Planners on Tuesday morning gave the go-ahead for a big wheel, which will provide views over the Exe Estuary and would complement and further enhance the current amusement park at the Funder Park, to be sited on the existing grassy area of Beach Walk
The wheel will initially just be for the 2019 summer so the potential impact on biodiversity and the Exe Estuary Special area of Protection and the Dawlish Warren SAC can be assessed.
Owner of the amusement park, Shaw Wallis, told Teignbridge District Council’s planning committee that the big wheel would create jobs, revenue for the council, and that they would provide contributions to mitigate any impact on the nature reserve.
He added: “This should encourage visitors and viewers to the SSSi to view it from a height rather than on foot. In the summer, car parks already full, so we are not encouraging more visitors to Dawlish Warren but just give them more to do when they are here.”
The wheel is to have 108 seats in 18 gondolas. The wheel itself is to be 31.4 metres in diameter which, with ground clearance for gondolas, gives an overall height of 34 metres.
A report to the planning committee said that it would expand the number of tourist attractions at Dawlish Warren, the Local Plan policy is supportive of the development in principle, and that the wheel is likely to have a positive impact on the tourism offer at Dawlish Warren and the local economy by potentially boosting visitor numbers and/or length of stay.
Cllr Martin Wrigley, who represents the Dawlish Central & North East ward, said that his heart sank when he first saw the item on the agenda but was delighted when he read the report that all of the concerns initially raised about the wheel had been addressed.
He said: “This is a temporary one year installation with conditions, management and monitoring of the visitors. I am delighted to see that the concerns have been observed and picked up and I can whole heartedly support this.”
Cllr Sylvia Russell said that a ferris wheel was something that she could see going well in Dawlish Warren and has happy for it to be trialled to see if it worked and whether there was an impact.
Cllr Humphrey Clemens added: “It is right to do the one year trial and assess whether it is harmful on the habit or not, and if not, then they should be allowed to continue beyond then.”
The hours of operation for the wheel are between 10am and 10pm, except on 10 dates when it can be open until 11pm.
The wheel cannot be erected and operated on before April 1 and must be dismantled before September 4.
Temporary permission for one season was granted by 14 votes to two on Tuesday, to establish the impact before any longer or permanent planning permission will be granted.
The report to the meeting added: “The operator of the amusement park was approached by Teignbridge District Council to see if he was willing to operate an observation wheel on the site. Modern day observation wheels have become synonymous with holiday resorts with mainly coastal town having one to offer to holidaymakers to take in the view of the surrounding areas.”
The nearest wheel to the Teignbridge area in Exmouth or Torquay.
Draft Heads of Terms, subject to planning permission, had been tabled between the applicant and the council, with a suggested lease of 15 years.
The big wheel was given planning permission and is set to be open for the summer.