SnOasis could change the face of Suffolk, says former Olympian
PUBLISHED: 19:05 08 March 2019
A bobsleigher from Ipswich, who represented Great Britain at four Winter Olympic Games, has backed the latest plans to build an indoor snow park at Great Blakenham, saying it could give future Olympic-hopefuls a chance to develop their talents.
The controversial SnOasis development has been on and off the agenda for nearly 20 years but a report prepared ahead of Mid Suffolk District Council’s planning committee later this month notes that funding is now in place for the huge £300m project.
MORE: SnOasis ‘could be complete by 2023’
The most recent plans have received criticism from local politicians, most notably, local MP Dan Poulter, who said that the development was “dead an buried”.
However, Lenox Paul, who represented Britain at the 1988, 1992, 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics, believes that the project could “change the face of Suffolk”.
He said: “Being an Olympian, I have always been envious of seeing other athletes in their home countries with facilities to train in.
“It’s not just that you don’t have to travel or that it is cheaper to train, it is that you have everything around you, your coaches, your friends and family and doctors if you are injured.
“We as a nation do not have anything close to this facility that is being proposed to be built, and to be built in Suffolk would, in my opinion, be a fantastic opportunity for the area, and would attract a new generation of economic business in Suffolk.”
If it gets the final go-ahead, the SnOasis site would incorporate an indoor skiing slope with bobsleigh runs and a speed skating rink as well as an entertainment dome offering a climbing wall, casino, nightclub and cinema. It would also house retail opportunities and a hotel.
Mr Paul continued: “I think that saying that there isn’t an economic future for the business is just a cop out. It’s the same as any business, there will be a five or 10-year plan to make sure it is successful.
“I’m not sure what people think the brand of Suffolk is, but I think this project could not only give a future to so many potentially talented children that live in Suffolk who don’t have a way to develop their abilities, and also could change the face of Suffolk.”