HOPES that work will start on the £300m SnOasis project next month have been described as “laughable” by campaigners against the scheme.

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However Godfrey Spanner, manager for the SnOasis project, said he was confident that once a business plan on the new railway station on the site is completed, work can start and will be finished by 2016.

The scheme has been dogged by setbacks and delays since Onslow Suffolk first acquired the former quarry site in 2001 with the aim of creating a £350m complex with an indoor ski slope, ice rink, hotels as well as shops and apartments.

Outline planning permission to build on the former quarry site has been agreed and expires in three years’ time, but whether it will go ahead has always been questioned by those opposed to it.

Last October it was reported that the Department of Transport was waiting for an important document detailing plans for a railway station on the site, which was said to be the final obstacle to overcome in the project. Mr Spanner has said the documents were delivered in November, and in December they started to work together to update the business case.

An invitation to tender for the new rail operator in the region is being launched in April and later in the year, it will be decided whether the railway station, expected to cost £18million, will be included in the plans for the next rail franchise.

Mr Spanner, who was declared bankrupt in March last year and forced to resign as a company director, said: “We have agreed to update the business case and we are working with the Department of Transport to do that.

“We are behind schedule. I’m desperate to start digging by the spring, and hoping it will be finished by 2016. I’m doing nothing else.”

John Williams, chairman of the SnOasis Community Alliance, said he believed the project would never go ahead. He added: “This seems totally laughable. The new station would cost him multi-millions of pounds. It really is nonsensical.

“There is no movement on the SnOasis site and we do not expect there to be.

“I don’t think we will ever see it happening. It was always a non-starter in our opinion.”

In response Mr Spanner said: “They have been saying this for 10 years. As far as I am concerned, I could not give a stuff what they say. I have been working my heart out for 12 years to get it off the ground.

“The train station is the most important element. We know that is achievable and once work starts the building programme is 30 months.

“It is ridiculous to say nothing has happened. We have built lots of homes already in Blakenham and are now in the second phase of that.”

Mid Suffolk has given Onslow Suffolk planning permission to build the SnOasis complex until 2016.

3 comments

  • We need something in Ipswich or the surrounding area, to attract visitors. We have a Lido that's been sitting derelict, that could attract visitors - granted there's parking issues there. What about all the undeveloped sites? - look at the former bakery site in Bury Road - what's happening with that huge empty space. It's on the edge of Town, and would be ideal for something like an Ice Skating Rink! - we have plenty of restaurants, hotels, a good cinema - but leisure wise? We could do a whole lot more to boost the local economy by attracting visitors to our .town. I was really excited when I heard about SnOasis - i won't believe these announcements until I actually see the bloomin thing built!! - maybe the project should be passed over to developers and contractors, who can actually deliver?

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    angela scrivener

    Friday, February 8, 2013

  • this development is something not just ipswich needs but the whole of england, this development will create jobs and a place for everyone to visit, as a country we have some amazing winter athletes and this would be a huge benefit to them, let alone a great day out for children to adults. Personally as a snowboarder at university campus suffolk this cant happen fast enough, now i understand that having a huge development near people is not the nicest thing but the benefits far outweigh the cons, such as jobs increase in local tourism leading to more money being available to the council, local bushinesses etc and chances are if this doesn't get built it will only turn into houses.

    Report this comment

    Andy Bell

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

  • This project will be a disaster for the locals if ever undertaken and a slap in the face for the `Big Society` idea because it epitomises a kick in the teeth to local parishes who opposed it.

    Report this comment

    Supernova6

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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