Decision on Suffolk snow resort still months away

Valley Ridge visual

Promoters of the proposed Valley Ridge resort are still waiting on crucial decisions. - Credit: Valley Ridge

It is now 21 years since a proposal to build a ski-centred resort at Great Blakenham, then called Snoasis, was first conceived - but the dream still looks far from being realised.

The current plan to develop the site - now called Valley Ridge - depends on the future of the landfill site next to it. If that is given a 13-year extension to its licence the owners say they could not go ahead because who would want to go holiday next to a waste tip?

The promoters of Valley Ridge have warned that the continued operation of the landfill tip would for

The promoters of Valley Ridge have warned that the continued operation of the landfill tip would force them to abandon their plans. - Credit: Archant

The decision on whether to extend the licence of current operators is expected to be taken by Suffolk County Council's Development and Regulation committee some time this summer - but there is a very strong possibility that whatever decision they come to will be appealed by either them or the backers of Valley Ridge.

That would see the final decision being sent to the government's Department of Housing and Local Government in London - with an even longer delay.

The landfill site has been operated by Viridor for many years - but a few days ago Viridor sold all its landfill operations to Frank Solutions Ltd.

Snoasis was first announced after the site near the former cement works was bought by Onslow (Suffolk) Ltd in 2001 and during the next nine years the plans were outlined and went through a lengthy planning process - including a public inquiry -  before being approved by the government in 2010.

Valley Ridge site

Valley Ridge would be built in old cement workings at Great Blakenham. - Credit: Archant

However, by then the financial crash had hit banks that were unable to make large loans and in 2012 the company was facing big financial problems and its main figurehead Godfrey Spanner was declared bankrupt.

The dream itself did not die - and the site was eventually sold to a new company with different backers and a new project was launched in 2020 with significant changes and a new name Valley Ridge.

It hoped to start work to tie in with the end of the landfill licence for the neighbouring site next door in 2022 - Suffolk's non-recyclable domestic waste now goes to the nearby incinerator, not into landfill.

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But operator Viridor last year asked for a 13-year extension to the licence - prompting Valley Ridge's operators to threaten to pull out if it was granted.

They warned this decision would force them to abandon their plans which would bring £500m of investment into the area and create 2,000 jobs.

Mid Suffolk Council urged the county to send the extension request straight to the government to streamline the process given that an appeal is likely to end up in Whitehall anyway.

Last year it had been hoped that a decision could be made this spring but that timescale has slipped.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said officials were in regular contact with the government about the decision and at present the Secretary of State was happy for the the decision to be made locally.

However, this was kept under constant review and if necessary the department could "call in" the decision and make it in London if it felt that would be best.