Great Blakenham: Fresh doubt SnOasis will go ahead - Mid Suffolk leader
06:00 29 May 2014
The leader of Mid Suffolk has cast doubt whether the proposals behind the £300million SnOasis project still “stack up”.
First proposed more than a decade ago, there is still no sign that SnOasis – the winter-sports complex earmarked for Great Blakenham – will be built.
And there is now little more than two years until its planning permission runs out.
Derrick Haley, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, said the public had the right to question whether it will go ahead.
“I have my doubts whether it will be built,” he said. “I would need some real convincing now that things are in place for it to go ahead.
“I just do not see how it could, there may be people who come back and ask for other uses for it. It’s a huge site, a very big site.
“I know the economy is improving but the business case that was put up all those years ago, does it now stack up? I do not know, someone would need to give me a real insight into their books.”
But Godfrey Spanner, the man behind SnOasis, remained defiant and said the comments were “completely out of touch”.
“During the depressed (recession) years we have reworked the project based upon modern techniques and materials and engaged with major partner opportunities which discussions are very current,” he said.
“Our entire team is intact. In the very near future we shall re-engage with the planners to discuss applications for reserved matters.”
He claimed the business case is “stronger than ever” since the collapse of the financial markets in 2008.
Last month it was revealed how a new developer had come forward with an alternative plan for the 350-acre site.
There were pre-application stage discussions with planning chiefs at Mid Suffolk – sparking calls for action to develop the area.
Mr Haley added: “Someone might come along with a great idea, it’s up to the community to view that and what is being offered.
“It’s near the A14, it’s a huge site and it would be nice to see it put to some good use.
“Some people were of the opinion that it would never be built from the first instance but if someone comes to you with a proposition you have to view it with good faith – that it’s going to be built.
“But as time goes by you do have to wonder.”
He said one idea for the site was to use it for sport facilities.
But Mr Spanner said SnOasis would be ready to open in 2018. “I remember stating in 2003, we were here to stay and we have continued to pour resources and enthusiasm on the SnOasis project for 14 years,” he said.