Will ice dream ever become a snow reality?

GREAT BLAKENHAM: Developers behind SnOasis have breathed a sigh of relief after being given an extra five years to start construction work – but critics today remain unconvinced the project will ever come to fruition.

Mid Suffolk District Council has allowed Onslow Suffolk more time to build the winter sports and hotel complex and that construction work could be “phased” to help speed it up.

But the move still needs to be rubber-stamped by the government and doubts remain about the viability of the �300million project and the sources of the funding, which developer Godfrey Spanner, pictured below, will not reveal.

He insists that through a mixture of bank loans and investors, the cost has been covered but due to the commercially sensitive nature of the project he says he cannot name the backers.

He said: “I would like to be transparent but I’m up there in a very competitive market and if I give the names of companies that want to invest someone in the City would say ‘they’re totally mad’ and sell all the shares. It’s commercially sensitive.

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“When we hear back from the Secretary of State, which will not be longer than three weeks from now, I will go back to tell the people involved in the funding package and say ‘this is our position, this our timescale’.

“A major bank is putting debt in and that will bring other banks to the party. Then we have our American operator, who is putting the business plan together. And then there are private equity investors.”

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Mr Spanner said several “high net-worth” individuals had committed cash to the project and Onsolw Suffolk itself, led by Mr Spanner and the other 41 shareholders, was putting in a considerable sum.

Mr Spanner says the well-known US firm that has agreed to operate the site once it opens can still not be named but he also claims to have met with representatives of a “middle east sovereign fund” about investment.

He is talking to several companies interested in taking on some of the key elements of SnOasis including the five star hotel, cinema and holiday chalets.

He said: “I have a major player who will operate the chalets – essentially they will buy them and rent them back to me.”

n Will SnOasis ever be built? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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