Construction of the gigantic Whey Aye wheel in Newcastle remains on hold – with the war in Ukraine cited as the latest reason for ongoing delays to the £100m project.
City councillors gave their backing to the controversial 460ft observation wheel, which would be the tallest in Europe, and wider ‘Giants on the Quayside’ leisure complex almost three years ago.
But there is still no sign of any building work starting on the former site of the demolished Spillers flour mill in Ouseburn.
Work had been scheduled to begin in 2020 and the attractions open to the public in 2023, but the firm behind the plans has pushed back those dates multiple times – pinning the blame on the huge disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
When asked last December, the World Wheel Company had said it “fully intends” to start construction in the first quarter of 2022, but that has now been and gone.
But the company insists that the huge project will still come to fruition and says it is now “working towards being able to start work this year”.
Its chief executive, Phil Lynagh, said: “The impact on global capital markets caused by the ongoing economic effects of the pandemic and, more recently, the war in Ukraine, have unfortunately delayed our start date.
“However, our funding partners remain fully committed to the project and we are working towards being able to start work this year.
“We have taken advantage of the delays to increase our focus on utilising new construction methodologies and materials which are allowed within the current planning agreements.
“Doing so has allowed us to investigate how we can further improve the delivery of our Giants on the Quayside development in terms of its overall sustainability.
“This will ensure we deliver an enhanced development for the city, its people and the millions of visitors who will come and enjoy Giants on the Quayside during its successful operation.”
As well as the big wheel, the development is due to feature a 39ft human-shaped statue called The Geordie Giant, a virtual golf club, and a family entertainment centre.
But opponents have labelled the wheel “cheap and nasty” and predicted that it will be a “flop” if and when it opens.