Is Dawlish Warren to Become the Next Devon Seaside Town to Get a Big Wheel?

Ferris wheel

Exciting plans have recently been submitted to create a new 34-metre-high observation wheel at Dawlish Warren. The proposals were made by the owners of the Funder Park Amusements, Shaw Wallis, with the aim of creating a “Big Wheel” for locals and holidaymakers to enjoy the scenic views of the Devon coastline, notably the Exe estuary. The application also takes into consideration the need for a necessary loading and unloading platform, along with a kiosk.

The application also proposes that the wheel would require ten part-time staff members, with suggestions that the wheel would be open seven days a week, from 9am until 11pm. It is thought that the wheel could prove particularly popular in the evenings, with sunset views on the wheel likely to create a buzz in the Beach Walk area. In 2016, Dawlish Warren beach was named one of the top 12 Blue Flag beaches in the UK, making it an ideal holiday destination for young families. The 506-acre shoreline is something that the town is justifiably proud of, with its sand spit also home to a renowned nature reserve, home to many unusual species of seabirds.

Enhancing Dawlish Warren’s Beach Walk
The wheel would almost certainly enhance the appeal of the area surrounding Beach Walk and the outdoor Funder Park Amusements, which have long been one of the main tourist attractions at Dawlish Warren. Funder Park has generally catered to children and young families, while nearby Pavilion Amusements have been better-suited to older locals and holidaymakers, with a great range of slot machines in the adult-only area. The concept of slots has translated well into the online gaming scene in recent years with iGaming operators like Betway offering a wide variety of online slots, ranging from the classic fruit machines you’ll find at Pavilion Amusements to state-of-the-art video slots with high-definition audio and visuals. Dawlish Warren’s prospective Big Wheel would be one way to help draw in the crowds to help Pavilion Amusements compete with their online counterparts.

Taking a leaf out of the book of East Devon District Council
Last year, Devon Live revealed plans were approved for a 28-metre-high big wheel at nearby Exmouth Seafront. East Devon District Council’s planning committee gave the go-ahead for the wheel to operate in the Esplanade for the next two summers. Exmouth’s big wheel was part of an overarching plan to transform Exmouth Seafront, with the town’s councillors reason for approving being that leaving the seafront in its current condition was not an option. The draft heads of terms for the “Big Wheel” application in Dawlish Warren propose a 15-year lease which many local businesses and councillors believe will create a major asset to the area.

The application states that the owner of the Funder Park Amusements was “approached by Teignbridge District Council” to ascertain their appetite to run an observation wheel next door to Funder Park. It says that 21st century observation wheels “have become synonymous with holiday resorts”, allowing holidaymakers “to take in the view of the surrounding areas”.

Although the application acknowledges that a “Big Wheel” would “not [be] expected to attract any more visitors to the Warren”, it does recommend the wheel as “an added attraction to these visitors already on site”, offering an “elevated viewing position of the coast”. Equally as important, the application says that it won’t impact the nearby “Special Protection Area”, operating “without the need to encroach onto the wildlife reserve”.

Whether or not the wheel is approved in time for use during this summer’s Dawlish Celebrates Carnival week remains to be seen. The carnival week runs from 10th to 16th August. Last year, Dawlish celebrated its 50th anniversary and the town is proud to continue this tradition in the footsteps of those who have run it before. The culmination of Dawlish Celebrates Carnival week is the Summer Fireworks Display, held on the Green. This free fireworks show, funded largely by Dawlish Warren traders, is one of the main draws to the area for holidaymakers.

Credit: Ferris wheel picture - pxhere