Date set for SnOasis public inquiry

PLANNING bosses have set a date for the detailed examination of controversial proposals to build a multi-million pound winter sports complex in Suffolk.

PLANNING bosses have set a date for the detailed examination of controversial proposals to build a multi-million pound winter sports complex in Suffolk.

Officials from the Government Office for the East of England (GoEast) confirmed last night that a public inquiry into SnOasis would start on January 23 next year.

The £320million development, proposed for the former cement works at Great Blakenham near Ipswich, was given outline planning permission by Mid Suffolk District Council in April but campaigners wanted the proposals discussed at a higher level.

The hearing, which is expected to last for 20 working days, has now been given the go-ahead and will be held at the district council's offices in Needham Market.


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John Williams, chairman of SnOasis Community Alliance, said: “This is very good news. We have been after a public inquiry right from the start and wanted the application to be tested fully and properly.

“Personally I felt it was too large an application to be decided by a local planning authority so am very pleased it has been taken up at a higher level.

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“We are not necessarily against the development but we want the application to be a fit application and so far we don't believe we have seen one.

“We have been making preparations for a public inquiry for some time and have spent thousands of hours organising our legal team and barristers.

“We want to ensure all the views of the parish councils and those we are working with are represented and that if the plans do get through we are not lumbered with something that will be detrimental to the area.”

SnOasis is one of East Anglia's biggest development projects for years and will include a main 475 metre-long ski slope, golf course, ice rink, casino, nightclub, hotel, railway station and homes.

While many villagers fear the extra traffic generated by the development and its impact on Suffolk's landscape, others argue it will be a huge boost to the tourism economy creating many new jobs.

Godfrey Spanner, the developer behind the plans, was unavailable for comment last night.

n SnOasis Concern is holding a sponsored five-mile Big Balloon Walk on Sunday starting from Cottage Farm, Little Blakenham.

The main walk begins at 10am and the shorter family walk at 11.30am and all money raised will go towards funding for the public inquiry.

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