Plans have been announced to build Europe’s biggest observation wheel in Newcastle - dubbed the Whey Aye.
Standing nearly 460ft (140m) high beside the River Tyne, the developers say it will be 16ft (5m) taller than the London Eye, and will create up to 550 jobs and see more than £100 million invested in the city.
The wheel will include a 11,960 square yards (10,000 sq m) LED digital screen in the middle, which will be used to communicate information about local culture and events as well as adverts.
The proposed site is at the east end of the Quayside, on the site of the former Spillers’ Flour Mill.
Artist’s impressions show the wheel standing far higher than other famous landmarks such as the Tyne Bridge and the Angel of the North.
Included in the experience would be bars and restaurants and a visitor attraction called Giants of the North, which would celebrate the achievements of the region’s sports stars and business people through history.
The plans were announced by the World Wheel Company, which has built and operated giant observation wheels and family entertainment centres around the globe.
It said visitors would be taken on a 30-minute “flight” on the Whey Aye - the company’s phonetic rendering of the enthusiastic Geordie phrase “why aye”.
It hopes to attract 800,000 visitors in the first year.
A detailed planning application will be submitted later this year.
Commenting on the plans, Alan Shearer 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.”
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.”
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.
“It will also further enhance the North East’s global reputation for technological and industrial innovation whilst celebrating Tyneside’s heritage and supporting its future.
“At World Wheel Company, we always strive to deliver sustainable commercial plans that benefit the entire community over time, particularly through long-term job creation and ongoing income generation for local government and private commercial partners. The plans being submitted are specifically designed to achieve these same benefits for Newcastle and the wider North East.”
World Wheel Company chief marketing officer, Nigel Hartley, added: “Newcastle Quayside is the perfect location for a new iconic landmark that people can interact with.
“The World Wheel Company is reinventing the wheel with its unsurpassed combination of innovation and technology to deliver unforgettable customer experiences. We’re hugely excited to be working on this world-class development and pioneering the creation of an entirely new marketing and social media channel for the region and beyond.”