SnOasis inquiry reaches conclusion

FOUR months after it began, the public inquiry into the £300million SnOasis project will finally end today - sparking an anxious wait for the inspector to deliver his verdict.

FOUR months after it began, the public inquiry into the £300million SnOasis project will finally end today - sparking an anxious wait for the inspector to deliver his verdict.

If it gets the go-ahead, the leisure, sports and holiday complex - including giant indoor ski slope - at Great Blakenham, near Ipswich, will become the biggest development Suffolk has seen in decades.

But it will be guaranteed to face further opposition from campaigners who have mounted such a vigorous attack on the scheme since it was first announced.

Planning inspector John Gray, who has overseen the inquiry at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich, is expected to hear final submissions from developers today before concluding the hearing. He will then deliver his recommendation to the Government later this year.


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The scheme also includes a 350-bedroom hotel, 350 chalets, more than 400 new homes and a new railway station.

William Upton, barrister representing the SnOasis Community Alliance, has told the inquiry that local people are not against development at the former quarry, but that it must be in harmony with the surroundings.

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There are also concerns about the amount of traffic it will generate and potential light pollution.

He argued: “We are still faced with a project that is not supported by a publicly available business plan. The likely contribution to the local economy is also doubtful. It seems likely to become Suffolk's own [Millennium] Dome.

“It is an out of town location and it is to be developed to what is predominantly a Greenfield site. It would be damaging to ecology and there are habitats and species of international and national importance that will be affected.

“What is a proposed is a very large refrigerator stuck in a landfill site, like some post-modern joke about our consumer society.”

Mid Suffolk District Council has already given the project its approval, but due to the magnitude of the development it was called in by the Government for the public inquiry.

Rupert Warren, barrister acting for developers Onslow Suffolk and Persimmon Homes Anglia, has said it is a “sustainable” development with massive benefits.

He has told the inquiry: “It would give a huge boost to the local and regional economy, including tourism.

“The environment will be safeguarded and improved by a battery of measures aimed at the landscape, ecology and other aspects of the natural world such as drainage, flooding and the control of lighting.”

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