The London Eye’s long-term future secured

Latest News Fri, May 10, 2024 6:54 AM

One of the UK’s most iconic visitor attractions – the lastminute.com London Eye – has had its long-term future secured, after Lambeth Council confirmed that it could remain on London’s South Bank.

At the meeting of the Council’s Planning Applications Committee, Lambeth Councillors voted unanimously to support a recommendation from officers to discharge a condition attached to the 2003 planning permission that required the local planning authority to decide whether the attraction could be retained beyond 2028.

This followed the submission of a report for Merlin Entertainments co-ordinated by Lichfields which assessed the continued acceptability of the Eye in this location. The comprehensive assessment included Further Environmental Information assessing a range of topic areas, with assessments from Lichfields on planning, heritage, townscape and socio-economic impacts.

Lichfields identified the wide ranging benefits of the London Eye, including £143 million GVA per annum within London and over 200 direct jobs, as well as the benefits that elevated views of heritage assets such as the adjacent world Grade II* County Hall and the World Heritage site at The Palace of Westminster has to users of the London Eye.

The Council agreed with the conclusions of the report and that the benefits of the London Eye weighed significantly in their decision. In approving the report the Committee has confirmed that the Eye can remain in place – with current arrangements continuing beyond 2028. This includes a requirement for 1% of the attraction’s annual turnover to be paid towards the maintenance and management of the public area surrounding the site. These monies are invested in partnership with South Bank Employers’ Group and South Bank Business Improvement District.

The decision builds on the planning and EIA advice Lichfields has provided on the London Eye since 1999 when Lichfields secured the temporary planning permission for the 32 capsule London Eye and subsequently a separate planning permission and listed building consent for its retention in 2003.

Nick Thompson and Hannah Whitney, who led Lichfields’ work, said “We are very pleased with the decision and having advised on this project for 25 years seen it become such a popular feature providing many benefits for the local area, London and the UK. We are delighted that it will be in place for future generations to enjoy.”

Speaking following the decision, Merlin’s Chief Executive Officer, Scott O’Neil, said: “A landmark decision for a landmark attraction. The London Eye is both the centrepiece of Merlin’s central London offering and visitors’ itineraries, drawing millions to the South Bank each year to enjoy unrivalled views of the capital.

“It is impossible to imagine the London skyline without the iconic structure of the London Eye, and with its long-term future secure, we will continue to invest and expand Merlin’s presence in this great city, which is one of our key gateway clusters. We will work closely with key partners locally, including the re-elected Mayor Sadiq Khan, to further boost London’s attractiveness to both international and domestic visitors, offering them experiences that bring joy and everlasting memories.”

Merlin’s Divisional Director of Gateway UK, Sunny Jouhal added: “It was clear from the council meeting that there is strong and enthusiastic support for the Eye – and a recognition of the immensely positive contribution it makes to the vibrancy of this part of London and the businesses and communities it works with on a daily basis.

“When the Eye first opened at the turn of the century, no-one could have envisaged it would become synonymous with all that is great about our capital city. Following this decision by Lambeth Council, we can now confirm that this attraction will continue to play its part, long beyond 2028, in attracting visitors to the South Bank. We look forward to continuing to work constructively with others to further boost footfall in the surrounding area – whilst also ensuring that our contributions help make this area a safe, sustainable and welcoming place to visit.”

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