Community will 'learn to love' SnOasis

THE developer behind the £320m winter sports complex SnOasis said last night the community would “learn to love” the facility after the plans were given the green light.

By John Howard

THE developer behind the £320m winter sports complex SnOasis said last night the community would “learn to love” the facility after the plans were given the green light.

Mid Suffolk District Council's planning committee yesterday gave outline planning permission for the scheme, in Great Blakenham, after a tense meeting.

The project still has hurdles to overcome but if built is expected to include a main ski slope - 475 metres long with a 100 metre vertical drop - a golf course, ice rink, ice climbing wall, bobsleigh ride, casino, nightclub, conference centre, 350-room four star hotel and 350 chalets for guests.


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Councillors also approved a £13 million railway station in the village, and 421 homes, both of which will help serve the development.

Developer Godfrey Spanner said: “This is the biggest coup of my career and I have never worked this long on a deal before.

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“This is a great relief to me, I know the community will learn to love it. There has been five years of work on this, and we still have a long way to go.

“Climbing Mount Everest is an ambition I am now unable to dream of, but SnOasis has been a challenge of very similar proportions.

“We knew because of the extraordinary nature of the proposition, this would present the authorities with an unprecedented challenge, but I am delighted that after careful consideration, the council has approved our exciting proposals.

“I hope now that GO East and the Deputy Prime Minister will also support our plans and not call it in.

“The delay caused by a call in would be disastrous for us, delaying the project a further two years, costing millions more and missing the opportunity of the 2012 Olympics.”

SnOasis, which hopes to house some of the athletes involved in the London games, is to be built on the site of a derelict quarry four miles north of Ipswich.

At the centre of the resort will be the world's largest indoor ski and board slope with a vertical drop of 100 metres and half a kilometre in length, broadening to 80 metres at the base.

The developers say the complex will ensure the discovery and development of the nation's best winter sports medal hopefuls while holidaymakers will be able to follow their passion without having to travel to all corners of the globe.

Clive Thomas, chairman of the Institute of Directors for Suffolk, said: “I am absolutely delighted and relieved that after so many years of debate, we finally have a decision.

“Most business people I have spoken to have been completely for this opportunity. We should have been ashamed of ourselves if this had not happened.

“We have Newmarket racecourse in the west and now mid Suffolk has something that will be the envy of the world, and which will add money to our tourism economy.''

Scott Dolling, destination marketing manager with the Suffolk Tourism Partnership, said: “The development of this world class attraction is a great boost for the county and will help our job of raising Suffolk's profile in the years to come.

“Tourism represents a huge and continuing opportunity for Suffolk's economy to thrive and the support services such as local food and drink producers should enjoy great benefit form this historic SnOasis decision.”

But councillors had been torn over the development, voting nine to six in favour.

Councillor Poppy Robinson, Conservative, said: “We must support the young people and on balance I feel this is an opportunity for the area.''

Dr Alec Russell, Conservative, said: “(Similar) schemes in Japan, Dubai, Spain and Germany and in this country work very well, and I will support this.''

Wendy Marchant, Liberal Democrat, said: “The railway station will be a great asset, but SnOasis is really a dilemma.

“The tourism experts tell us, yes, Suffolk needs this and we lack facilities for the young people, the business world supports it and sports organisations.

“But traffic is a great concern and I feel this is out of character with the area.''

And Green district councillor Andrew Stringer described the site as a large phallus striking out into the Suffolk landscape.

SnOasis was approved nine votes to six during the two-day meeting at Great Blakenham village hall, while the railway station and homes planned for the area were approved unanimously.

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