More details of SnOasis revealed

INTRICATE design details of the SnOasis project have gone under the microscope as a planning inspector begins the task of deciding whether the landmark ski complex should be built.

INTRICATE design details of the SnOasis project have gone under the microscope as a planning inspector begins the task of deciding whether the landmark ski complex should be built.

As day two of the SnOasis public inquiry got under way today, the project's backers and its opponents returned to the Corn Exchange in Ipswich to do battle over the biggest development proposed in Suffolk since Felixstowe port.

The first head-to-head in the fight for SnOasis was over how the huge structure, which could one day see international slalom events held indoors at Great Blakenham, would look.

Design expert John Orrell from DLA Architecture was the first witness called by developers Onslow Suffolk.

Mr Orrell was questioned about how the design for the huge structure which would accommodate a ski slope 400metres long with a 100metre vertical drop was developed.

During his time in the spotlight, Mr Orrell said that DLA had been commissioned in October 2002 to produce a design complex for the SnOasis concept.

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He told planning inspector John Gray: “From the outset we understood from the brief that the ski slope would, by its nature, be the single largest structure in the development.”

Discussion switched from how deep the architects expected to dig into the ground to accommodate the base of the main slope to the neutral-coloured outer coating it would have.

Mr Orrell described the building as a “technically innovative and daring structure”.

Today the inquiry is due to shift its attention to the economic benefits which the £350million winter sports resort could bring.

Onslow Suffolk was expected to call Karl Eddy, a partner at Project Finance, to give evidence about the benefits it would bring in the form of jobs, inward investment and spin-offs throughout Suffolk.


OPPONENTS of SnOasis fired their first salvo at the giant complex by warning it could become Suffolk's equivalent of the Millenium Dome.

They say SnOasis would lead to massive transport, environmental and ecological problems and insist the business case for the complex is not proven.

William Upton, the barrister acting for the main opponents, SnOasis Community Alliance, said: “It seems likely to become Suffolk's own Dome - except this time it is a 'Dome in a hole'.”

Mr Upton criticised the design of SnOasis and the choice of the Mason's Quarry site for its location.

He told planning inspector John Gray: “It is too big. It is in the wrong location and it is badly thought through.

“There are serious and obvious concerns about the visual impact of this supposedly landmark development.

“There are major concerns regarding the effects on ecology and nature conservation of local, national and international importance.”

And he questioned whether it would have the economic benefits that Onslow Suffolk and other supporters have suggested.

He said: “The likely contribution to the local economy is also doubtful. What is proposed is a large refrigerator stuck in a landfill site.”

Mid Suffolk District Council restated its support for the development and defended its decision to grant outline planning approval last year.

Meyric Lewis, the barrister representing Mid Suffolk District Council and Suffolk County Council at the public inquiry, said the applications had the “express endorsement” of the authorities.

He said: “The proposals would help to bring about significant economic development and community benefits to the area, in particular in terms of economic development and regeneration spin offs.”

And he said worries about the impacts on the environment were not merited.”

SUFFOLK has an opportunity to embrace a huge boost to its economy and “a truly important facility” for Britain's future.

That was the message from the developers behind SnOasis on the opening day of the long-awaited public inquiry.

As reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star, the parties representing Onslow Suffolk urged planning inspector John Gray to recommend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government give it the go-ahead.

Rupert Warren, the barrister acting for Onslow Suffolk and Persimmon Homes Anglia, which wants to build 421-home development near to SnOasis, said: “The development will make a significant contribution to the generation of jobs and to the economy.”

In laying out the argument for SnOasis on the first morning of what is expected to be a five-week inquiry at Ipswich Corn Exchange, Mr Warren described the application to building a new railway station at Great Blakenham as “a highly sustainable package of tourism, leisure, employment and infrastructure works”.

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