Public meeting on SnOasis project

By John HowardTHE SnOasis developer is to face villagers at a public meeting tomorrow, when residents will outline their concerns about the £320million winter sports complex.

By John Howard

THE SnOasis developer is to face villagers at a public meeting tomorrow, when residents will outline their concerns about the £320million winter sports complex.

Mid Suffolk District Council has received three planning applications relating to the SnOasis complex, earmarked for Great Blakenham, near Ipswich.

If approved, they would see the creation a new winter resort at the former Blue Circle cement works, a new railway station and 537 homes, shops and community facilities.

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The planning application also includes a 500m-long piste, a nine-hole golf course, 18 restaurants, a nightclub, an eight-screen cinema, a casino, 350 self-catering lodges and a four-star 350-bed hotel.

The proposed development has split opinion in the area, with supporters keen to see a huge economic boost to the region and new jobs.

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But some residents are concerned about the impact of the winter sports complex on the countryside and possible major traffic problems.

A public meeting will be held at Great Blakenham Village Hall from 7.30pm tomorrow when Godfrey Spanner, managing director of Onslow Suffolk, which has applied to build SnOasis, will hear from residents.

He will be joined by other developers involved with the housing part of the project, traffic specialists and county and district councillors.

Alan Stovell, a Great Blakenham parish councillor who deals with planning issues, said: “People will have their chance to question the developers. We expect about 200 residents will attend.

“The leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, Roger Saunders, will also be there. A lot of people have the impression that the council fully supports this, but it is not a done deal a far as Mid Suffolk is concerned.''

Mr Spanner said: “I'm going to be very pleased to be there to answer their various questions.

“We are not quitters and we are here to do what we believe is right for the area. Suffolk needs to exist on tourism.”

Meanwhile, claims by developers that a public inquiry could put the project in jeopardy have been labeled “ill-considered and scaremongering” by the Suffolk Parish Group, 15 parish and towns in the Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Council areas.

John Williams, chairman of the parish group, said: “Throughout their supporting documents the developers impressively stress the national and, indeed, international importance of their scheme.

“Given that, why should they fear the scheme coming under the spotlight at a national planning inquiry?

“The developers are fond of saying they have spent four years on the plan, have spent some £10m thus, far including employing 23 consultants. Surely they cannot seriously expect us to believe they are willing to put all that time and money at risk?”

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