Big wheel planned for SKATE

WHEELY BIG DEAL: A rendering of the planned attraction

A 22-METRE high bird’s eye view over Calverley Grounds could become part of the annual Christmas festival experience if a recently submitted planning application is approved.

The plan for an observation wheel – the ‘Happy Wheel’ – must be scrutinised by the Planning Committee, as the applicant is Tunbridge Wells Borough Council itself.

If permission is granted, the observation wheel could become part of the event from as early as this December, and every year until January 2028.

“The proposed observation wheel will provide an enhanced recreational experience during the Christmas period in an area that has limited use during the winter,” said Council officers in documents included with the application.

The Happy Wheel would be in place for five weeks of the event, accommodating up to 56 passengers at a time in 14 gondolas, according to the specifications included in the planning application.

According to the manufacturer, the Happy Wheel has a relatively small ‘footprint’ on the ground, so can be set up in areas with limited space.

However, with a wheel span of 19.2 metres, and fitted with colour-changing LED lighting, the wheel will
have a big impact.

From its position inside the park, near the Mount Pleasant gates, passengers will have a clear view over
the ice rink and park, from 10am to 9pm, seven days a week, apart from Christmas Day.

Cllr Justine Rutland Cabinet member for Economic Development, said the matter would hopefully come up before the Planning Committee in October or November.

“All applications from the Council are decided by the Planning Committee. [This is] not a legislative requirement, but good practice for transparency.”

Last year’s event attracted over 40,000 visitors – the second-most visited season in the event’s history.

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