SnOasis plans set for approval

PLANS for a massive £320 million indoor winter sports and holiday complex in Suffolk have been backed by planning officers, it emerged yesterday.

By John Howard

PLANS for a massive £320 million indoor winter sports and holiday complex in Suffolk have been backed by planning officers, it emerged yesterday.

Mid Suffolk District Council published a 400-page report which concluded that the SnOasis development at Great Blakenham, near Ipswich, should be granted outline planning permission.

After months of detailed investigation and research, planning consultant John Lawson has advised Mid Suffolk district councillors - who will meet in less than two weeks time - to approve the scheme.

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He also backed linked applications for 421 new homes in the village, and a new £13 million Great Blakenham railway station to help reduce the amount of people travelling to SnOasis by car.

He argued that SnOasis will boost the region's economy and tourism, and, although recognising there will be an impact, said the majority of the site would not be visible from a distance because it will sit within a former quarry.

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The development is expected to create the equivalent of 1,500 full-time jobs, and will include a ski centre with a series of indoor ski slopes and an ice climbing wall, using real snow created in sub-zero temperatures.

The development is also expected to include an ice rink, fun bobsleigh ride, casino, nightclub, four-screen cinema, golf course, tennis, squash, badminton, football and roller hockey areas, and a nature park.

It is anticipated there will be a 350-bed hotel, 100 apartments, 350 chalets and parking spaces for 2,700 cars.

In his report Mr Lawson said the environmental, social and economic impacts had been carefully considered but, on all three applications, he found in favour of the developments.

He said sufficient work had been done to minimise the negative impacts of SnOasis and the region's economy stood to gain significantly.

Godfrey Spanner, managing director of developers Onslow Suffolk, said: “I am very pleased that Mid Suffolk District Council's officers have decided to recommend for approval the SnOasis planning applications.

“I hope now that the members will, on the 20th April, take on board the officers' recommendations and give their backing to SnOasis.”

Scott Dolling, Suffolk Development Agency's Tourism Partnership destination marketing manager, said: “The economic benefits and tourism opportunities for Suffolk will be enormous.

“Despite the understandable concerns from the local community, the tourism partnership believes that Suffolk cannot afford to miss out on this unique world-class opportunity.”

And Sue Wilcock, spokeswoman for campaigners Suffolk for SnOasis, said: “Although this is great news and will please the people and businesses who have already given their support to SnOasis, it is only half-time as far as we are concerned.

“We will be working hard over the next two weeks to make sure that everyone is left in no doubt as to the positive support from the community.

“This is definitely not the time for complacency and Suffolk for SnOasis still needs local people to speak up if they are for this unique development.”

Sally Easton, spokeswoman for the council, said: “The officer recommendation for each application is broadly for approval, subject to conditions and to call-in by GO East.''

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