Public inquiry blow to SnOasis

INFURIATED backers of the SnOasis ski development are today rallying investors to stay on board despite the project facing a possibly fatal delay because of the government's decision to hold a public inquiry.

INFURIATED backers of the SnOasis ski development are today rallying investors to stay on board despite the project facing a possibly fatal delay because of the government's decision to hold a public inquiry.

Developers Onslow Suffolk said they were “devastated” by the decision, reported first on the Evening Star website yesterday, to hold an inquiry into whether the giant ski slope should be built at Great Blakenham.

The company's managing director Godfrey Spanner has been holding talks with key stakeholders in the wake of the announcement that an inquiry would be held, resulting in further delays for the project.

Today he said that not only could the inquiry delay SnOasis by more than a year but it could be further jeopardised by a clash with the 2012 London Olympics, which will make it hard to complete construction of the £350million leisure complex.

He said: “The government has let the people of Suffolk down. I am devastated.

“A public inquiry could take up to two years and such a delay could be very costly, threatening the whole project. It also puts in jeopardy SnOasis' ability to contribute to the region's 2012 Olympic offering.

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“We could have been a big part of the Olympic effort. We could have offered training facilities for visiting teams and 3,500 beds for visitors. Now we're not going to hit that deadline.”

The Government Office for the East of England, which was the body charged with deciding if an inquiry was necessary, said the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government felt one should be held because of the prospect SnOasis could give rise to significant regional controversy and could impact areas beyond Mid Suffolk.

Opponents of the giant winter sports complex, which is proposed for the former Mason's quarry site, were jubilant today over the decision to hold a public inquiry.

Peter Welham, administrator of the SnOasis Parish Group, said: “This is exactly what we have worked hard to achieve for almost three years and it is the logical outcome to what has been an enormous battle against a developer with huge financial resources.”

The group's chairman John William described the decision as “a great day for democracy”.

Mid Suffolk District Council said it “welcomed” the prospect of further scrutiny of its planning decisions through a public inquiry but stressed it felt the SnOasis project and the related 421-home Persimmon housing development and new railway station for the town represented a good result for Great Blakenham.

All three development applications will be under review at the inquiry. A date has not yet been set for the inquiry but a spokesman for the district council said it expected to hear within the next few days when it would be held.

Weblinks: www.snoasis.co.uk; www.goeast.gov.uk; www.midsuffolk.gov.uk

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