Operators line up to run SnOasis

THREE international ski slope operators are vying to win the contract to run the giant SnOasis complex if it gets the go-ahead from the government, the developers behind the scheme revealed today.

THREE international ski slope operators are vying to win the contract to run the giant SnOasis complex if it gets the go-ahead from the government, the developers behind the scheme revealed today.

Onslow Suffolk has confirmed that the firms are waiting in the wings in the hope the winter sports scheme will win the backing it needs from planning inspector John Gray and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The company's managing director Godfrey Spanner said: “We do actually have an option on three operators.

“We haven't decided who it will be but we have three people with an option at the moment.”

The company was prompted to speak out after the third day of the inquiry heard that no operator had been confirmed for the scheme, prompting opponents the SnOasis Community Alliance to assert that the whole project remained purely speculative.

But Mr Spanner said the identities of the firms were commercially sensitive but he stressed talks had been ongoing for some time, although one of the firms had halted talks until the government rules on whether planning permission will be granted.

Most Read

One of those firms is known to be the operator of a ski slope in Germany while Mr Spanner would only describe the others as “international” firms already operating ski slopes.

Onslow Suffolk has also received new estimates for the cost of constructing SnOasis - and it is now considerably less than the £355million first thought.

Mr Spanner said: “Our original costs have been reassessed as recently as December and they are below the original estimate.

“Our most recent estimates take in costs of a commencement by the beginning of next year. It's very near to £300million.”

While the cost of SnOasis has fallen, the cost of constructing the proposed new railway station at Great Blakenham has risen from £13million to £15million.

On day four of the public inquiry yesterday, Mr Gray heard evidence from sustainability expert Dr Ann Heywood, who said SnOasis had “pros and cons” associated with it but performed well against a checklist of nationally recognised criteria on sustainable development. In one test she said the project achieved best practice in seven out of eight categories.

The second witness of the day was Andrew Crawford, a partner at Matthew's and Son Chartered Surveyors, who told the inquiry that thanks to safeguards put in place SnOasis could “live side by side” with the adjacent Viridor landfill site.

The inquiry, which is expected to last five weeks, resumes on Tuesday.

WEBLINK

www.snoasis.co.uk

SnOasis - the inquiry

There are three planning applications at the centre of the public inquiry. Mid Suffolk District Council gave all three outline planning approval last year but the government has ruled it will have the final say.

The first application is for the SnOasis leisure complex itself.

SnOasis would include an indoor ski slope measuring 400metres long with a 100-metre vertical drop as well as a range of other facilities, including a nursery ski slope, ice rink, ice climbing wall, bobsleigh ride and an academy for winter sports athletes.

There would also be restaurants, a nightclub, conference centre, cinema and a range of other facilities.

Guests would stay in a 350-room four star hotel, 350 chalets or a hostel located on site.

The second application is for a 421-home Persimmon homes housing development on the nearby Blue Circle cement works site.

The third is for a £15million railway station for Great Blakenham.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter