Floriana Ferris wheel set for refusal over negative visual impact

Ferris wheel for Floriana Granaries shot down by Superintendence for Cultural Heritage, Planning Authority’s advisory committee and planning directorate

The proposed ferris wheel would rise to a height of 45 metres with a diameter of 40.6m
The proposed ferris wheel would rise to a height of 45 metres with a diameter of 40.6m

A proposal to erect a 45m high Ferris wheel at the granaries in Floriana is heading for refusal after the proposal was shot down by the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage, the Planning Authority’s Advisory Committee, and the Planning Directorate.

The project was deemed to have a negative visual impact by the case officer report issued by the Planning Directorate which recommended the project’s refusal.

According to the report the Ferris wheel could pose a threat to the World Heritage Status of Valletta and would challenge the monumental presence of the parish church of Floriana, dominating all views of the historic granaries.

As proposed the wheel would be constructed in steel and would rise to a height of 45 metres with a diameter of 40.6 metres. The wheel located within a public car park facing the Floriana Granaries, directly opposite St Publius’ Church.

It would be fixed to the ground with a steel base and mounted on a concrete platform. Although the observation wheel may be demounted, the installation would be permanently erected on site.

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage had “strongly objected” to the proposed project noting that the proposed structure would be visible from numerous surrounding viewpoints, irreversibly changing the appearance of Valletta and Floriana.

The project’s architect had submitted clearance from the Lands Authority to the project.

The proponent is Liam Mangion, the sole owner of Extreme Events, and a shareholder in another popular amusement ride, Slingshot Malta.

Liam Mangion had 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?’”

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 have 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.”

He dismissed any fears on the visual impact on Valletta, arguing that similar wheels are found in several leading world heritage locations, including UNESCO sites. “The wheel will produce a lot of smiles, excitement and positive marketing for our island, whilst respecting the skyline.”

Din l-Art Helwa has recently described the project as “a serious visual intrusion on the skylines of Valletta from both the Three Cities and from Sliema”. The Floriana local council has also objected to the project arguing that if approved it would dwarf the locality’s parish church.

The Planning Authority’s board will take a final decision on the project on 18 July.

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