The Greenwich Eye?

So. The Old Royal Naval College, who presumably couldn’t fail to notice the cash that the ice rink brings in every year, are apparently applying for planning permission to get a giant ferris wheel in the green bit just outside the Pepys Visitor Centre.

It will, of course, be much smaller than the Real McCoy – just 55m instead of The London’ Eye’s 135m, not least because it won’t be permanent, but the Greenwich Foundation (not to be confused with Greenwich Hospital Trust, ok?) seems to think it will be a winner, even if it means they’ll lose a few of the lucrative film crews who queue up every summer to pretend Greenwich is an American military school or an 18thC Belgian chateau.

I’m willing to give it a go. Somebody from a certain unnamed British tourist board (not Greenwich-based, I hasten to add) that I accidentally found myself next to at a restaurant the other day was very sniffy about the idea, sniggering about who-the-hell-would-want-to-go-on-it, which of course turned me from being initially sceptical myself into a raving advocate.

There have apparently already been six letters of protest. Here we go again. Ok – it will “spoil” the view for a few months this summer – but some of the great historical photos of places have included temporary entertainment structures – and you could see it as an eye-catcher rather than an eyesore. Presumably they’re worried that it’s going to become permanent. The London Eye, The Blackpool and Eiffel Towers, The Spinnaker – yes, ok they have become permanent but only because they’re so well-loved. If the new wheel isn’t loved it won’t become permanent. It’s as simple as that.

But hey – let’s look at it another way. How come this is “uncharacteristically tall” and would be “of an overbearing scale within the waterfront area” (from a council report on the matter, which is recommending refusal of the proposal) when some of the stuff that has been given permission has managed to slip through?

I fail to see why this is ANY worse than some of the other “uncharacteristically tall”- and very definitely permanent – structures that have gained planning permission recently. How about that lovely development at Lovell’s Wharf? Wood Wharf? The splendid Deptford Creek erection or the new proposals at Deptford itself? Are they somehow invisible because they contain minute apartmentlets for business execs who don’t know what else to do with their bonuses?

If we moan about absolutely everything new that is proposed, then we’ll never be taken seriously when something truly bad looms.

I’d say give it a try – and as a sop to the moaners say that permission absolutely won’t be granted for next year – to be reconsidered the year after of course. Heaven knows – it might actually be GOOD…

I can’t see that it will do much harm if it’s coming down after a few months and it could be quite fun. I’d certainly take a ride…

But here’s one final thought. Why is this being proposed in what is effectively a valley? Wouldn’t the view be more spectacular from the top of Blackheath? (Ok, I know, I know, The Greenwich Foundation don’t actually administer Blackheath)

Guess I’ll just have to make do with the bank holiday carny…

What does everyone else think?


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