Valley Ridge ski resort in jeopardy amid furious row over landfill site

An artists' impression of a ski slope at the Valley Ridge resort, formerly known as SnOasis, in Great Blakenham Picture...

Fresh plans for Valley Ridge were due to be submitted this year - but investors have now threatened to 'walk away' - Credit: Archant

A £500million ski resort in Suffolk could be ditched - after investors threatened to "walk away" if a nearby landfill site is given a 13-year extension.

Plans to build Valley Ridge - with one of the largest indoor ski slopes in the UK, along with a snow dome housing a range of winter sports - have been in the works for 20 years.

But those behind the 284-acre site say they have put their latest planning application on hold, arguing that it is "completely incompatible with an operating landfill dump next door".

New plans for Valley Ridge reveal a family focus and longer overnight stays

Lodges would be included as part of the Valley Ridge plans - Credit: Valley Ridge

Suffolk County Council says it has received a planning application to allow the Masons site, in Great Blakenham, to continue to operate into the future.

A spokesman for the council said: "The council is working through the relevant process to assess the application details, so we’re not in a position to give views at this point.”

But investors to Valley Ridge, formerly known as SnOasis, say any extension "will prove fatal to the new £500m investment and 2,000 new local jobs".


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They have threatened to "walk away if the landfill operation is allowed to continue".

Simon Padgett, of Valley Ridge, said: “Our Valley Ridge plans are well-advanced. 

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"We’ve got construction companies bidding to build the scheme, and we’re close to signing up leading brand hotel and leisure operators.”

“All we are asking is that Suffolk councillors weigh up the benefits between the tremendous advantages to Suffolk of having this economically-beneficial Valley Ridge attraction, rather than extending the operation of an unnecessary and environmentally-unfriendly landfill dump."

A consultation of the Valley Ridge plans launches after Easter with a view to submitting a new planning application in summer

Valley Ridge plans are said to be 'well-advanced' - Credit: Valley Ridge

He argued that, in his view: “Extending the operation of the landfill is in direct contravention of Suffolk’s own policies, which permit landfill only as a last resort. 

"It’s not required, because Suffolk already has sufficient landfill capacity.

"It diverts waste away from more environmentally-friendly methods of disposal, and it’s against policy to take more landfill than we produce in the county.”

SnOasis itself divided opinion in Suffolk before its renaming as Valley Ridge.

Opposition to early plans led to a planning inquiry, while the latest plans show a new focus on year-round leisure and short breaks for families.

However, Mr Padgett said: “We’re delighted that the main local response is ‘when can we come to visit’ and from Suffolk businesses is ‘how can we benefit and get involved’.”


What is in the latest plans?

The latest plans include a state-of-the-art water park, as well as a 350-bedroom four-star hotel with a spa and wellness centre.

In a big move to consolidate the 'family' feel, the casino, gaming room and nightclub were cut from the plans, as was the concentration on retail.

There would also be outdoor pursuits like climbing and high ropes, zipwires, archery and adventure golf, as well as a winter park with toboggan runs and ice-caves in addition to the ski slope.

There are still plans to include restaurants and cafes, as well as 500 cabin-type self-catering lodges.


Timeline: how SnOasis project unfolded

  • October 2002 - Proposals for SnOasis unveiled
  • During 2003 - Widespread support for scheme from winter sports officials
  • June 18 2004 - Formal planning application lodged with Mid Suffolk Council.
  • July 2004 - Consortium of parish councils set up to oppose development, appoint former county councillor John Williams as their spokesman
  • November 2004 - Application was due to be discussed by Mid Suffolk Council - put off until January 2005
  • December 2004 - Developers told application will not be discussed until the end of April 2005
  • April 2006 - Mid Suffolk Council's planning referral committee backs SnOasis
  • January 2007 - Public inquiry into the SnOasis development begins
  • May 2007 - Public inquiry is completed and public inspector John Gray sets about preparing his recommendation to government
  • May 2008 - Government announces support for SnOasis but wants a series of issues to be addressed before final consent is granted
  • November 6, 2008 - SnOasis gets go ahead

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