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Could Stratford's big wheel be here to stay?

Stratford’s big wheel could become a permanent seasonal fixture in the town, if councillors vote to approve a new planning application.

Stratford's big wheel (45163282)
Stratford's big wheel (45163282)

The wheel, which is operated by Danter Attractions, was granted a three-year permission to operate for six months each year back in 2018.

That permission has now expired but a new application seeks approval for the wheel on the same six-month seasonal basis, but without an expiry date.

If granted it would enable the wheel to become a permanent fixture in Stratford.

There was certainly some opposition to the idea of a big wheel before it arrived in Stratford, but having operated seasonally for the past four years, what do people think now?

Former mayor Cyril Bennis. said: “To me it’s not a question of whether I like the wheel or not, it’s the fact that Stratford District Council are not following their own policies, this is a conservation area and an area of restraint, a normal member of the public would not be able to do something like this.

“The wheel has had an effect on residents in the area, it would be fine somewhere like Coventry or Birmingham, but we’re a market town and it’s overpowering here, it ruins our essential beauty.”

Tony Godel, who ran the Stop the Wheel campaign against the attraction first coming to Stratford in 2016, said: “We actually decided to move away from Stratford, the wheel was 100 yards away from our house, it was horrible. I’ve come to the conclusion now that the planning system doesn’t entitle anyone to a view or privacy.

“I believe this wheel is dumbing down Stratford, they call it an observation wheel, but it’s a Ferris wheel. I know there was a lot of opposition when the original permission was granted, I would imagine that still exists.

“I could sort of understand it if they were seeking another year’s permission or even another three years, but seeking permission for it to come back every year is just a kick in the teeth.”

Nick Birch, who runs the nearby Avon Boating, said: “For us being so close, the wheel is overbearing in what is a sensitive area in the middle of Stratford surrounded by listed buildings. There are other places within the town this wheel could go and whether or not it will be there for six months a year makes no difference, it has a huge impact.

“This goes against all the district council’s planning policies and it was only granted permission last time on the basis that it was temporary. I don’t think it’s right for permanent permission to be granted, it would need to be on a temporary basis so it can be reviewed.”

Emily Danter, of Danter Attractions, said: “On the whole the vast majority of people are in favour of the wheel, I think you see that on the Stratford forum. I believe people’s fears about the wheel have been allayed over the past few years that it has been operating, it’s good for locals and tourists alike and It can help Stratford to recover from the effects of the pandemic, in general it’s very popular.

“I think people have misconstrued the planning permission we have applied for too, we are not asking to operate for 12 months every year as some have suggested, it is six months.”

A decision on the application is expected to be made next month.

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