A gigantic advertising screen for the controversial Whey Aye Wheel development has been labelled a "Blot on the Tyne" – but could win the backing of councillors within days.

The final verdict on a 729sqm LED screen earmarked for the base of the planned observation wheel is due this Friday, and Newcastle City Council planners are now recommending that it gets the green light.

The advertising screen is a key outstanding issue for the £100 million project on the site of the old Spillers flour mill, with the city’s planning committee having been set to refuse advertising consent for it last year before being convinced to defer their decision so it could be redesigned.

And like the 460ft wheel itself, which was granted planning permission in 2019, the screen has sparked furious opposition from locals.

Ahead of a council planning committee hearing this week, Byker councillor Veronica Dunn warned the display will be a “Blot on the Tyne".

Developers the World Wheel Company have pledged that only 60% of the screen will now be used for ads, in response to concerns it would pose a safety risk by distracting drivers.

But Coun Dunn and Labour colleague Nick Kemp, both long-term opponents of the Whey Aye, have questioned why the screen still needs to be so large if only 60% of it will be used.

Ouseburn councillors Gareth Kane and Alistair Chisholm have both objected, with the latter warning it “threatens a devastating impact on the views and surroundings along Newcastle's beautiful Quayside".

He added: "The character of our unique Ouseburn Valley and the views enjoyed by so many from the bridges over the Tyne and from areas overlooking the river are threatened by the proposed enormous screen."

Opposition had also been lodged by the Ouseburn Trust and the St Peters Neighbourhood Association, while one resident of the Malings told that council that they fear “Ouseburn will completely lose its charm and become tacky”.

The council’s planning department, however, supports the latest screen plans – though the final decision will be made by the committee of elected councillors on Friday.

A planning officer’s report states that there “would be no detrimental impact on heritage assets and aural amenity arising from the proposed screen”.

The council has proposed a 10pm cut-off time for the screen’s operation, as well as a condition banning adverts from being shown when the wheel is not in use.

The report adds: “Whilst there would be an impact and some harm to visual amenity particularly during the hours of darkness, the introduction of tighter hours of operation would on balance mean that the visual impact of this proposal would be acceptable.”

The civic centre’s highways department also raised no objection, saying: “While any roadside advert, moving or not, has the potential to cause driver distraction, this can often be mitigated against.”

Building work has yet to start on the wheel or the wider Giants on the Quayside complex, with developers confirming recently that its opening date has been pushed back to spring 2024.

World Wheel Company Newcastle chief executive, Phil Lynagh, said: “Over the past 15 months, we have worked closely with Newcastle City Council to revise our planning application for the use of advertising on the LED screen at our Giants on the Quayside development.

“We remain totally committed to delivering our £100m investment and regeneration project and look forward to our revised plans for the screen being considered at the forthcoming planning committee meeting.”

The meeting, which is being conducted virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions, will be held at 9.30am on Friday and streamed on YouTube.