The London Eye: Merlin Entertainments launch bid to have attraction made permanent - when did it open?

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The London Eye first opened in 1999 by Tony Blair, with an original five years lease. But is now set to become a permanent attraction

The London Eye, which was originally planned as just a temporary attraction, is set to become a permanent feature of London’s sky-line. The London Eye has become synonymous with the capital and brings in great tourism revenue.

There is currently a deal to keep the London Eye in place until 2028. However, leisure group Merlin Entertainments recently revealed they will apply to Lambeth Council for an amendment of the planning permission to allow it to stay longer.

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The London Eye was originally opened in 1999 by then prime minister Tony Blair and was first named ‘The Millennium  Wheel’, and had an original lease of just five years. The first paying passenger to go on the London Eye was on March 9, 2000.

As per the Evening Standard, Merlin division director Mike Vallis said: “The London Eye is a UK success story with a global reach. When it 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. As the capital’s most visited paid attraction, it continues to be enjoyed by millions of guests every year, it is now time for us to secure its long-term future through this application to Lambeth Council.

“Following the recent announcement by the Mayor of London that the New Year’s Eve fireworks will be returning to the Eye at the end of this year, it is clear that this attraction has a revitalised place at the heart of the capital’s cultural life. Now is the time to ensure the Eye can be enjoyed for generations to come, and we look forward to working with Lambeth Council to secure the necessary amendment to the existing planning permission.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has also thrown his support behind the bid, saying on his official Twitter account “The London Eye Has become an iconic part of our capital’s skyline. It’s a visitor attraction enjoyed by millions, not to mention the focal point of our NYE firework displays. I fully support plans to make it a permanent part of our city.”

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