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Cambridge City Council

Parker’s Piece

  • Parker’s Piece, Cambridge CB1 1NA

Parker’s Piece, near the city centre, is one of the best-known open spaces in Cambridge.

The grass is kept tidily short and the park is a popular spot for picnics and games of football and cricket.

The gas lamp at the crossroad of the paths across the park, erected in 1893, was nicknamed Reality Checkpoint by students in the 1960s.

The park’s name comes from a cook named Edward Parker who held the original lease to the land, which at the time was used for grazing.

The observation wheel

The council has a contract with City View Wheel Company for an observation wheel to be situated on Parker’s Piece for up to 16 weeks each summer from 2021 to 2025.

The observation wheel is intended to help attract visitors to the city centre and provide a much-needed boost for city centre businesses, following a difficult couple of years which have seen many local businesses suffer during the pandemic.

It also offers a leisure opportunity for those visiting the city, using the open space, or wanting to see the city from a new perspective.

Measuring 36 metres in height, the observation wheel plus seating area and ticket office, which is operated by the City View Wheel Company, can carry up to 144 people in 24 gondolas at any one time - offering visitors and residents alike panoramic views over the historic city centre.

Contact the City View Wheel Company for all information about tickets, booking, availability and access.

You can report a problem in a park or playground online or contact us on 01223 457000.

Did the City View Wheel Company need planning permission?

Yes. Permission was granted by councillors at the council’s Planning Committee on 14 June 2022 for the four summers 2022 to 2025, meaning that the attraction can open to the public for up to 16 weeks between 1 April and 31 August each year until 2025.

Who made the decision to enter into the contract with City View Wheel Company?

The decision to enter into a contract with City View Wheel Company was taken in March 2021 by the Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Open Space at the time, who took a delegated decision.

Will the council earn any money from the wheel being situated on Parker’s Piece?

Yes. Councils across the country are being asked to cover a shortfall in government funding and Cambridge City Council is no different. The council agreed in 2020 to consider the use of parks and open spaces for opportunities to generate income, and the approach from City View Wheel Company offers this, with the income generated for the council set to help provide essential services to local residents, businesses and visitors to Cambridge.

What considerations are there for the environmental impact of the wheel?

The wheel has a low carbon footprint and as part of the planning approval it was agreed that the operator will provide a method statement to ensure the grass is repaired or re-established after the wheel is removed each summer. The ride will also operate without music or the brighter lights that were seen during the Winter 2021 visit.

What impact will the wheel have on the space available for recreation on Parker’s Piece during the summer?

The wheel takes up only a small part of Parker’s Piece, with no impediment to the marked areas where residents play sports.

Are there provisions for accessibility?

Yes, there will be an accessible gondola. Please check with the provider direct for further information such as on how to book.

Were residents' views considered?

Yes. We know from summer 2021 that some residents had concerns about the impact on the grass on Parker's Piece, a possible loss of formal recreation space, and noise and light disturbance. As part of the agreement for 2022 to 2025, these concerns have all been taken into account (more detail about each can be seen in the FAQs above).

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