Worthing is set to get the WOW factor with the proposed installation of a Giant Wheel on the seafront.
The Worthing Observation Wheel (WOW) is proposed for the area between The Beacon and the Beach Office at the bottom of Montague Place.
At a height of 46 metres, the equivalent of nine double decker buses, the WOW will give unparalleled views of the town, Downs and the Channel. There will be a total of 36 pods with a capacity of 6 people each. A temporary base will be built on the beach to support the ride.
Worthing Borough Council is seeking to enter into a three-year lease arrangement with the WOW operating for a six to nine month period between April and October and then being dismantled for the winter.
The new proposal builds on the fantastic success of the Big Wheel which operated in Steyne Gardens earlier this year and which attracted more than 10,000 visitors in a month, despite extremely poor weather conditions.
Buoyed by that success the Council began to examine opportunities to bring a more longer term attraction to the seafront as part of its continuing efforts to stimulant new economic growth and visitors to the town.
The Council undertook an open procurement exercise to identify an operator. One company, deKoning Leisure Ltd, which had run the Steyne Gardens wheel, responded to the call and after careful evaluation it was decided to proceed.
The company will bear the costs of constructing the base on the beach, and the wheel, which will be a new construction specifically for Worthing. It has also agreed to make a financial contribution to the Council depending on profit. There will be no financial contribution from the Council except for some officer time and the company will bear the costs of dismantling the wheel and removing the base at the end of the three years.
Permission to go ahead with developing the proposal, planned for next year, has to be given by Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Cllr Kevin Jenkins, later this month and then gain planning permission.
Cllr Jenkins said: “I have had a look at this proposal and, in principal, it looks fantastic. I will of course look at all aspects of the report but from what I’ve seen so far this has the potential to be a wonderful iconic seafront attraction which will give amazing panoramic views of our beautiful town.
“The company would be taking all the risk but when we saw the popularity of the wheel at Steyne Gardens earlier this year I thought it is well worth exploring a more elaborate offer, that could give Worthing its own unique selling point and attract visitors to the town as a destination of choice.
“We are transforming this seafront town with proposals to improve our streets and walkways and restaurants wanting to open up here. There’s plenty more to come!”
Cllr Jenkins will spend the next few days weighing up the report produced by the Council’s Place and Economy team before deciding if to give the go-ahead. It will then go forward to the planning committee.