Obstacles for snow dome revealed

GOVERNMENT inspectors today revealed the five criteria which they will use to judge whether a public inquiry is needed to decide the fate of SnOasis.Representatives acting for the Deputy Prime Minister are preparing to analyse the plans for the £350million winter sports complex proposed for Great Blakenham and they have outlined what they will base their decision on.

GOVERNMENT inspectors today revealed the five criteria which they will use to judge whether a public inquiry is needed to decide the fate of SnOasis.

Representatives acting for the Deputy Prime Minister are preparing to analyse the plans for the £350million winter sports complex proposed for Great Blakenham and they have outlined what they will base their decision on.

At the centre of their investigation will be decisions on whether the project could:

conflict with national policies on important matters

have significant effects beyond the immediate locality

give rise to substantial regional or national controversy

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raise significant architectural and urban design issues

involve the interests of national security or of foreign governments

The Government Office for the East of England (GO-East), which will make the crucial decision on whether an inquiry is necessary on behalf of John Prescott, is yet to receive formal notification of Mid Suffolk District Council's decision to give the plans for SnOasis outline planning approval.

That decision by the council's planning referrals committee gave developers Onslow Suffolk the green light to further progress its plans for the world biggest indoor ski slope on the site of the former Mason's quarry.

The government can decide to hold a public inquiry into the decision because the project falls outside the area's development plan but if it decides an inquiry is not necessary Onslow Suffolk will be able to submit more detailed plans for approval by the council.

This week a new lobby group called SnOasis Concern was formed by concerned residents who fear SnOasis would have massive negative impacts on the Great Blakenham area.

The group's chairman, Keith Willetts, said: “A project like this needs a much more thorough examination than the average conservatory or house extension application usually handled by the Mid Suffolk planning committee.

“It will have a very detrimental effect on wildlife, traffic and the quality of life for people in the whole area.”

But Godfrey Spanner, managing director of Onslow Suffolk, said: “I feel that we've done everything we can.

“A good reason to hold an inquiry is if it is felt the public have not been fully informed. When it comes to SnOasis the public has been totally informed.”

Weblinks: www.go-east.gov.uk; www.snoasis.co.uk; www.snoasisconcern.com

If built, SnOasis would be one of the UK's largest leisure complexes.

At its heart would be a ski slope measuring 475 metres long with a 100 metre vertical drop.

There would also be facilities for 13 other sports, a 350-room hotel, conference centre, casino, nightclub, restaurants and guest chalets.

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