Giant ferris wheel Whey Aye Wheel set to open on Quayside in 2024 - everything you need to know about the £100m plan

The £100 million waterfront investment was hit with another delay this year, but developers are hopeful the project will be ready for the public in 2024.

How the giants of the quayside entertainment centre and Why Aye Wheel is set to look. Pic via BBC LDRS

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Construction on the Whey Aye wheel’s is now set to begin at the end of 2021, with a targeted finishing date of 2024.

Once completed,  the Whey Aye wheel will be Europe’s tallest observation wheel.

What is the Whey Aye Wheel?

A 140-metre-high wheel is planned for Spillers Wharf on the Quayside near Ouseburn, along with surrounding restaurants and entertainment venues to be known as ‘Giants on the Quayside’.

The wheel itself is set to be taller than the London eye and will be three times the height of the Tyne Bridge.

The wheel will be made up of 60 cabins which can fit eight passengers per cabin with each ‘flight’ lasting approximately 30 minutes.

The cabins will be licensed and visitors will need to pass airport grade security to ride, developers say.

The £100m Giants on the Quayside development plan will include;

- Up to 15 bars and restaurants,

- A sky trail complete with giant slide,

- A virtual golf club,

- A private members bar surrounding the Whey Aye wheel

- The Geordie Giant, a 39-ft statue.

The team behind the £100 million complex redesigned  the planned LED screen, which will be at the base of the 460ft observation wheel after concerns from councillors.

What will the giant screen show?

The redesign makes the screen slightly bigger than the initial 187ft-wide plan, with a new screen more than 200ft wide planned, however around 60% of the screen will be taken up by advertisements.

With the planned 200ft-wide screen at the base of the wheel, the new plans change the target audience of the screen to those that are visiting the Whey Aye site, rather than long-distance viewers in Ouseburn and the Gateshead Quays.

The screen will not emit sound, and will appear as clear glazing when switched off, rather than as a blank screen.

World Wheel Company chief executive, Phil Lynagh

said: “The detailed planning application we submitted included an LED screen.”

“At the same time, we applied for an advertisement consent for the LED screen.”

He added that the council “expressed some reservations regarding the display area of the screen,” but that the new plan would include an hour a day for the screen to display social media posts as well as public service and visitor information.

When will development begin and why was it delayed?

Work has yet to start on the observation wheel or the surrounding area, with several delays repeatedly blamed on the impact of Covid-19.

Initial plans were announced in 2018 sparking controversy, and were approved a year later in 2019 amid a split among councillors, with Councillor Veronica Dunn branding the plans “cheap and nasty”  in a council meeting.

Development on the project has been delayed a number of times since, though developers now say getting work to start on site is ‘an absolute priority’

World Wheel Company chief executive, Phil Lynagh, has said: “We now expect work to start on the site towards the end of this year and anticipate it being able to open to the public in 2024.”

“Progressing our Giants on the Quayside development is our absolute priority. We are determined to build a world-class development creating hundreds of jobs and other great benefits for the city of Newcastle, its people and business community.”

Opening the attraction was initially planned for 2023, but has since been pushed back to spring 2024.

What it will mean  for the Quayside

The Giants on the Quayside development hopes to provide 800 jobs to the region and attract 698,000 visitors a year, developers have claimed.

Although the plans attracted criticism, Cllr Ged Bell, Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for employment and investment, said when they were approved that the development would be ‘a game changer’ for the city.

He said: “The idea of one of the world’s biggest observational wheels operating here in Newcastle has captured a lot of people’s imaginations.

“The development has the potential to be a real game changer, creating hundreds of jobs for local residents and attracting thousands of new visitors, which can only be good for shops, restaurants, cafes and local businesses.

“I am delighted that the planning committee has approved these exciting plans. They have listened to all of today’s speakers, and I look forward to seeing this derelict site coming back to life over the coming months.”