Suffolk's snoasis moves closer

WORK to build the new £300 million Snoasis holiday centre near Ipswich could start later this year.It would be the first stage of a major project creating up to 1,000 jobs and turning Suffolk into the winter sports capital of Britain.

WORK to build the new £300 million Snoasis holiday centre near Ipswich could start later this year.

It would be the first stage of a major project creating up to 1,000 jobs and turning Suffolk into the winter sports capital of Britain.

Snoasis would be built amid the quarry that provided the raw material for the Blue Circle cement works at Great Blakenham.

The proposal would see the world's largest indoor ski-slope as the centrepiece of a huge tourist attraction. The resort would also have a hotel, 300 skiing lodges, an ice arena, a golf course, and other leisure facilities.


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New homes would also be built on the site of the Blue Circle cement works, and a new railway station would be built on the main line between Ipswich and Norwich.

Mid Suffolk council is currently asking people for their views on the proposed development as it draws up its own plan for the area's regeneration.

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It has been working with the project developer Onslow Suffolk Ltd and if the scheme, which could be the largest single development in Suffolk since Felixstowe docks is backed, Onslow Suffolk could apply for planning permission this autumn.

If planning permission is approved, work could start before the end of the year and be completed by August 2006.

It would open in stages and the first major component, the arena for ice skating and concerts, could be open by Christmas 2004.

Although it is aimed mainly at tourists, it would be the year-round base for the British Olympic winter sports team.

"The developers have been encouraged by feedback to date and reaction from their numerous presentations and look forward to reviewing the comments made to Mid Suffolk," said David Lowe, of EWS, the Ipswich-based property agents handling the project.

"If the proposals are supported, Onslow Suffolk Ltd plan to proceed with planning applications this autumn. With a three year build programme, the development could be ready for use in August 2006" he added.

Godfrey Spanner, Managing Director of Onslow Suffolk Ltd, said he was hopeful that the first element of the project, the all purpose arena, could be open and in use within a year.

As well as skating, that would attract concerts and ice hockey and would encourage local people to visit the site during the three-year construction period.

Snoasis would be a mecca for the tourist industry in East Anglia.

Market research by Onslow Suffolk suggests that 13 million people live within two hours' travelling time of Great Blakenham.

Up to 250,000 people a month could visit Snoasis and although many activities would be seasonal, it would be open 365 days a year.

"We are very excited about the proposals which would be a major boost for tourism in the area," said Jane Cryer from the East of England Tourist Board.

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