Work on SnOasis 'could start within 12 months' after final plans approved
PUBLISHED: 22:38 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:05 15 March 2019
Major proposals to build a huge £500million snow centre near Ipswich have won approval from council planners.
Work on SnOasis in Great Blakenham could potentially start in 2019, Mid Suffolk District Council’s planning committee heard, bringing thousands of jobs to the county.
The project – to bring an international snow centre with a professional level ski slope, ice rink and bobsleigh run to Suffolk – could create 3,500 jobs during construction and a further 1,900 when it is fully operational.
It would also feature an entertainment centre with a casino, nightclub, pool hall and cinema – plus opportunities for shops, a hotel, hostel and chalets.
Planning officers and development company DP9 were quizzed about the 20-year-old bid during a meeting at Endeavour House in Ipswich this afternoon.
It had initially been granted planning permission following a public enquiry involving the secretary of state in 2008.
Most of the plan’s features had been finalised during that inquiry however there were still a range of conditions DP9 needed to prove they would be carrying out during the build, before the committee voted on the plans.
Despite concerns raised by local parishes, yesterday’s meeting saw the committee approve it by a majority of 11 votes to three.
Committee chairman Matthew Hicks said: “We have heard from a large number of the surrounding parish councils and they have all raised some very particular concerns about really valid details.
“It’s really important that a liaison group is set up so that there is a better understanding between the parishes and the development.
“I 100% agree around the opportunity, the growth prospects and all the positiveness that this project brings to Suffolk.”
Last week, Great Blakenham parish council chairman Steve Plume raised concerns about transport infrastructure and increased traffic volumes if the project was given the go ahead.
Meanwhile, Dr Dan Poulter, who represents Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, spoke of his surprise at the plans continuing after he believed they were “dead and buried”.
The controversial development, planned for a 350-acre site in Great Blakenham, has been on and off the agenda for nearly 20 years.
Dr Poulter said: “It does strike me that a snow dome in rural Suffolk is a risk, and that is quite apparent for the majority of people.
“There are many better ways for the land to be used that I can think of.
“The dome needs to be economically viable in the long term, and I do not think it will be.
“If the economic benefit was strong enough, it would have been built already.”
Representatives from DP9 stated that funds were in place for the £500m project from a UK-based company, who currently own the land.
Early stage ecological works could potentially start this year with the project due to be completed by 2024.