Shrunken Solent Eye could open on prom

Southsea's answer to the London Eye could still grace the skyline if city chiefs accept a scaled-down version.

Plans for a 180ft big wheel on Clarence Pier were turned down by councillors earlier this year for being too big.

Now pier owners have reluctantly come up with a smaller 130ft Solent Eye, which may now get the go-ahead.

The number of scenic pods around the wheel has also been reduced from 40 to 30.

But Pier director Jill Norman told The News the city council had robbed the scheme of its 'wow factor'.

She said: 'Planning officers do not have any vision.

'This is not as big or unique as we wanted.

'It also rules out the possibility of us building a restaurant wheel.

'It is disappointing we had to shrink the plans to fit the officers' recommendations.

'They wanted us to compromise but we were not that happy about it.

'We knew we would not get their support unless we dropped the height by 50 feet.'

The original Solent Eye received 25 letters of objection from residents worried about passengers being able to see into their properties.

But only three people have objected to the revised plans while four others have voiced their support.

Michael Chivers, of Dolphin Court, in St Helen's Parade, said: 'I think the wheel will be an asset for Southsea and will attract visitors.

'I hope that the NIMBYs residing around Southsea Common do not object to this great proposal – the Common and sea view is not their personal park.'

Up to 1,600 people are expected to visit the wheel each day at the peak of the tourist season.

But pier owners say ticket prices – which were expected to be pegged at between 3 and 4 each – would now have to increase to plug a profits gap caused by the wheel's smaller capacity.

City councillor for St Jude, Linda Symes, said: 'Not as many objections have been made this time.

'Although the wheel will be seen from people's windows, it will not block their views. These plans must be backed – too few private investors are putting their faith in Southsea.'

Councillors will vote on the Solent Eye at a meeting tomorrow night.