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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 11:16 GMT
London Eye aims to go permanent
Wheel pod overlooking London
The wheel is a popular tourist attraction
Operators have submitted plans to make the Millennium Wheel a permanent structure.

The 450-foot high wheel, one of London's most popular tourist attractions, currently has planning permission for only five years.

But on Monday an application was made to the local authority, Lambeth Council, to make that approval permanent.

The council has already been canvassing opinion about the future of the structure, officially known as the British Airways London Eye, which sits on the south bank of the Thames.

London Eye
Supporters hope it will become a permanent fixture on the skyline

About seven million in people in total - an average of about 10,000 a day - have taken a ride on the wheel since it opened early last year.

"Few people could have predicted that enormous success," said David Marks, of Marks Barfield Architects, who designed the wheel.

He said: "It has transformed the London skyline and played an important economic role in regenerating the South Bank and in maintaining tourism for London - even in these difficult times."

Supporters of the wheel say permanent planning approval will release investment for the improvement of the attraction and local facilities, and help other businesses plan for the future.

The wheel is to be closed for a month in January so annual statutory checks can be carried out by engineers.

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See also:

20 Nov 01 | England
London Eye to close for checks
05 Mar 00 | Business
BA: no Eye float - yet
01 Feb 00 | UK
Wheel of misfortune
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