SnOasis hit by snow delay

PROGRESS on the beleaguered SnOasis project has been hindered in recent weeks due to holidays, bureaucracy and, of all things, snow.

The team behind the grand winter sports scheme, located in Great Blakenham, near Ipswich, applied for permission to extend the build time at the end of last summer.

The application was approved by Mid Suffolk District Council planners in September but had to be rubber-stamped by the Secretary of State and signed off by lawyers representing all parties.

But Godfrey Spanner, the man behind developers Onslow Suffolk, claims that due to the a series of delays, including the recent bad weather leading to the cancellation of meetings, the papers have not all been signed and no work can begin.

Mr Spanner had earlier been hopeful that work on the very first stage of the development - the creation of new habitats to relocate threatened newts and badgers on the site - could have started this month and had also targeted February for the start of construction.

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But it seems now that the project is set for another delay, although Mr Spanner remains confident that the former quarry site - that will feature a hotel, shopping complex and winter log cabin village - will see work begin in September and be open by the last quarter of 2014.

His spokesman Jim Carroll said: “The document has been massive, people have been on holiday and then the snow happened.

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“People were working up until 7pm on Christmas Eve and it’s still the same. It needs to be signed off by all sorts of people - Mid Suffolk District Council, the banks - because it’s such an enormous amount of money and it goes to the solicitors.

“We were very confident it would be a quick process. It’s been Godfrey’s priority to try to get this thing sorted out. It shouldn’t be long.”

John Field, district councillor for Great Blakenham, said he remained unconvinced that the project would be completed as intended and that the latest delay was symptomatic of the problems the development had experienced since it was first announced.

He said: “I support the views of the residents in the area. There has always been some resistance to this - we never felt that the business plan held together.

“We have concerns that this chap really has the money available to complete this task. I certainly do not expect to see much going on immediately.” Mr Field said he expected to see “paperwork and preparation” in 2011, but wouldn’t be holding his breath for much else.

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