Plan lodged for major ski centre

By John HowardA PLANNING application has been lodged for one of the biggest commercial developments in Suffolk for years.Two transit vans were needed yesterday to take all the paperwork for the planning application from Onslow Suffolk Ltd for the £320million Snoasis winter sports complex to Mid Suffolk District Council's offices.

By John Howard

A PLANNING application has been lodged for one of the biggest commercial developments in Suffolk for years.

Two transit vans were needed yesterday to take all the paperwork for the planning application from Onslow Suffolk Ltd for the £320million Snoasis winter sports complex to Mid Suffolk District Council's offices.

The council will now have to consider more than 120,000 pages of documentation supporting the case for the leisure complex to be built on the former Blue Circle cement works in Great Blakenham, near Ipswich.


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They cover every aspect of the outline proposal for Snoasis - which could create 1,300 jobs - including environmental, transport and sustainability issues.

If approved, the development will include the largest indoor championship ski slope in the world, an outside toboggan run, an ice skating rink, a conference centre, a hotel and a cinema.

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A separate application has also been lodged with the council for a £5m train station, including a 120-space car park.

David Lowe, a director with EWS Ltd, which provides property advice to Onslow Suffolk Ltd, said: “I have been working on this for about four years, it will provide a further boost to the economy and benefit to local people.

“It will have the biggest indoor ski slope in the world, enabling some international competitions to be held there. It will have a training ground for budding Olympiads and the only speed skating track in the UK.”

Bob Feltwell, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, added: “This will be a major boost to the economy locally and is probably one of the most important developments after the Port of Felixstowe.

“We think this is excellent news. Leisure and tourism opportunities of this magnitude are few and far between and the chamber fully supports this.”

Mr Feltwell added he hoped many Suffolk firms would be involved in building the new development and that it would bring many jobs and opportunities for local businesses.

Bryony Rudkin, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “This would obviously be a major development for Suffolk that could significantly boost the local economy by providing new employment opportunities for people and increased income from tourism.

“However, it will also be important to carefully consider all the aspects of the development to make sure that the right infrastructure is in place to support the centre.''

David Ellis, head of environment and planning at Mid Suffolk District Council, said the public would be given the opportunity to have their say on the Snoasis scheme.

“Usually there is a wave of correspondence within the first couple of days of going out to consultation, with people worried that they'll miss their chance,” he added.

“This is just like any other application - people will have a 21-day period to get their responses in.”

A district council spokeswoman said its planning officers were ready for the logistical challenge of consulting with interested individuals and organizations within the statutory 21 day consultation period.

“The first job facing the team is to check through the 1,000-odd lever arch files, which they estimate will take about a week,” she added.

“Once they are happy that all is in order, they will begin sending consultation documents out. The list includes many individuals, Great Blakenham and neighbouring parish councils and another 50 organisations.

“Because of the regional significance of the project, it will also go to the East of England Regional Assembly.”

Council planning officers will collate the responses and present them together with the assessment of the environmental impact statement to the applicant, Onslow Suffolk Ltd.

It will then submit a response, which will all be put to a special combined district planning committee for a decision, which is unlikely to meet until September at the earliest.

However, because the development falls outside the existing Local Plan - the masterplan for development in the Mid Suffolk - any decision made by councillors could be called in by the Secretary of State for a Government ruling.

john.howard@eadt.co.uk

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