Great Blakenham: SnOasis ‘on schedule’ - developer

THE SnOasis winter sports park WILL open in late 2014, the developer has insisted.

Despite an apparent lack of progress on the site, which has most recently been held up by the need for a newt licence, developer Godfrey Spanner says several key deals have now been signed and all the necessary funding is in place.

While his opponents remain unconvinced by the claim, Mr Spanner says he can see nothing to stop the winter sports complex opening to the public in the last quarter of 2014.

Mr Spanner said that a number of contracts had been signed, including those with the park operators and construction partners, and several high-profile companies were interested in sponsoring elements of the sprawling disused quarry site.

He declined to reveal the names of the companies involved and would not release in-depth financial information, but insisted his entire funding package was in place.

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Mr Spanner said: “I have got everything I need to start the development - with the exception of one piece of paper (the newt licence).

“That’s all I’m waiting for - we get that piece of paper and we are there.”

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Mr Spanner said he had received a commitment from European-based partners of euro285 million and another �60 million was also in place.

Mr Spanner added: ”I am completely financed and it’s mostly European money. I have all my money, I have all my team. I have selected my contractors.

“I have chosen the main contractor and I have operators for the snow dome who are experienced in Dubai and Whistler (in the USA).

“I said seven years ago that I would deliver it - and I will deliver it.”

He said it was now “10 years and one month” since he had handed over the cheque for the original purchase of the former quarry site and that he remained confident that his vision would be realised.

The first stage, once the newt licence is granted, would be to move the newts into newly-created ponds, then carry out archeological work.

A condition of the outline planning permission is that the first construction work must be on the snow dome.

Over the last decade Mr Spanner’s doubters have repeatedly questioned the viability of such a large-scale project, particularly since the credit crunch.

Andrew Stringer, a Green Party county councillor and member of the SnOasis Planning Control Committee, said he had always harboured serious doubts about the scheme.

He said: “I have been on record saying that I would put money on what was in the original plan would never get built and I see no evidence to the contrary yet.”

Keith Willetts, of campaign group SnOasis Concern, said that it was time to start exploring alternative uses of the site that were “more appropriate”.

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