Floriana council says Ferris wheel will dwarf St Publius church

The Ferris wheel, described by its proponent as an “observatory structure” in an application to the Planning Authority, is set to include 36 capsules to each hold six persons.

The Floriana local council has objected to the siting of a Ferris wheel that would dwarf the iconic St Publius church
The Floriana local council has objected to the siting of a Ferris wheel that would dwarf the iconic St Publius church

A proposed 45m-high Ferris wheel on Floriana’s Granaries risks dwarfing the parish church of St Publius, the Grade 1 national monument that serves as a backdrop to the annual Isle of MTV festival.

A strongly worded objection presented by the Floriana local council against the attraction said the wheel would disrupt the “overall grandeur” of the church and the landscape of the granaries, which are also scheduled as a Grade 1 feature.

The Ferris wheel, described by its proponent as an “observatory structure” in an application to the Planning Authority, is set to include 36 capsules to each hold six persons.

The proponent is Liam Mangion, the sole owner of Extreme Events, and a shareholder in another popular amusement ride, Slingshot Malta, the latter with Paceville entrepreneur Hugo Chetcuti.

The council has objected to the loss of some 600sq.m of public space. The council said that although used as a car park, this space is often used for public gatherings such as the Isle of MTV festival, the Joseph Calleja concert and the PN’s Independence Day Celebrations. “The loss of even part of this public open space will likely jeopardise the future use of the area as a whole.”

The council asked for clarification on whether the structure will be erected on a permanent or temporary basis, noting that the implications would be greater if this is erected permanently. It also expressed concern on the loss of 31 car park spaces.

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage asked for clarification on whether the structure will be erected on a temporary or permanent basis. It called for an assessment of the ground’s stability, noting that the granaries are likely to extend below the car park area, and asked for photomontages of long distance views to assess the visual impact on the historical skyline and fortifications.

The London Eye is a defining attraction for the UK’s capital city
The London Eye is a defining attraction for the UK’s capital city

Proponent Liam Mangion had confirmed to MaltaToday that the Lands Authority has not objected to him presenting this application on public land. Anyone applying on public land is obliged to present a form showing that the authority does not object “in principle” to the proposed development.

While the base of the structure will be 30 metres long, the wheel will rise to a height of 45 metres, which is equivalent to the size of an 11-storey building.

The ‘Malta Eye’ would be considerably lower than the London Eye, which rises to 135m.

Liam Mangion told this newspaper his motivation for the project was his “great love” for observation wheels. “I saw the success observation wheels have throughout major cities across Europe and World Heritage sights and I’ve always dreamt of Malta hosting its own. I have visited many of them throughout the year, so I asked, ‘Why not Malta?’”

He also claimed that the wheel does not need any foundation works and can be installed in just 10 working days.

When asked why this particular location was chosen Mangion claims that he has been studying and getting expert advice since 2008 to find a suitable location in Malta. “The proposed area ticks all the boxes for a successful and iconic attraction, respecting the surroundings, residents, heritage and skyline.”

Mangion hopes he will be able to install his Ferris wheel this year while Valletta enjoys the status of European Capital of Culture.

More in Townscapes