Wheel deal “could cause collapse in park”
SCOTLAND’S answer to the London Eye is set to be scrapped because construction could cause part of a historic gallery to collapse.
A 60-metre ferris wheel – dubbed the Wheel of Edinburgh and capable of carrying 1,000 passengers – is planned for Princes Street Gardens.
But engineers have just realised that the weight of the crane needed to lift the wheel in to place could cause a vacant basement at the National Galleries of Scotland to collapse.
The news is a blow for the city council, which an insider claimed had already invested tens a five-figure sum in preparatory work.
And as well as attracting more tourists to the gardens, the council stood to make around £50,000 leasing the land for the wheel between October this year and next April.
“The insider said: “The wheel was scheduled to be erected in April or May and then the engineers discovered there is apparently some kind of basement under the gardens which could give way when the crane moved on to it.
“They also don’t know whether there’s another basement below that, which the crane could then land in.
“To go ahead with a project like this we have to be absolutely certain it’s safe so we’re talking about tens of thousands of pounds on a survey, which i suppose the council would have to pick up.”
The council source added: “There’s a lot of frustration about how it came to this point.
“The homework hadn’t been done and now there might well be technical difficulties which will be insurmountable.
“And this isn’t the only problem, it’s been one thing after another.
“It’s really getting to the point where it might well be easier to call it off.”
Council leader Andrew Burns admitted there were “challenges” in installing the wheel.
He said: “There are ongoing discussions with the developer who was going to bring the wheel to Princes Street Gardens and these have not been finalised yet.
“There are challenges in terms of getting the structure into the gardens.”
Princes Street Gardens dates back to the nineteenth century when private plots became a public park.
A loch was drained in 1759 to make way for the developments.
It is thought a basement of the National Galleries, which adjoin the park, would not be able to hold the weight of the crane needed to set up the huge machine.
Using neighbouring Princes Street is out of the question due to the city’s ongoing tram works.
Rail tunnels leading to Waverly station also rule out using other parts of the park.
The company behind the wheel, Great City Attractions, had planning permission to run it near the Ross bandstand from April to October.
Concerns had previously been voiced over the wheel’s location, with fears it could obstruct views of Edinburgh Castle and other historic buildings.
Historic Scotland said the wheel could have a “significant” impact on the setting.
And councillors feared the wheel, which would have enclosed podsto carry passengers, might become permanent.
Edinburgh city centre councillor Joanna Mowat branded the location as “stupid.”
She told a planning meeting on the wheel: “You might come back to the planning committee after the elections and say ‘well this has been here for six months’ and it ends up staying.”
Nearby traders were pormised the wheel would bring in millions of pounds.
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