Fresh Valley Ridge plans reveal 'family-friendly' staycation focus
- Credit: Valley Ridge
Fresh plans for the £500million Suffolk's Valley Ridge ski resort have revealed a new focus on year-round leisure and short breaks for families while the casino and nightclub have been scrapped.
The SnOasis project - as it was originally known - has been in the works since 2001 and after years of development the complex was finally given the green light in April 2020, before it was rebranded in November under Valley Ridge Holdings Ltd.
- October 2002: Proposals for SnOasis unveiled.
- During 2003: Widespread support for scheme from winter sports officials.
- June 18 2004: Formal planning application lodged with Mid Suffolk Council.
- July 2004: Consortium of parish councils set up to oppose development, appoint former county councillor John Williams as their spokesman.
- November 2004: Application was due to be discussed by Mid Suffolk Council - put off until January 2005.
- December 2004: Developers told application will not be discussed until the end of April 2005.
- April 2006: Mid Suffolk Council's planning referral committee backs SnOasis
- January 2007: Public inquiry into the SnOasis development begins
- May 2007: Public inquiry is completed and public inspector John Gray sets about preparing his recommendation to government
- May 2008: Government announces support for SnOasis but wants a series of issues to be addressed before final consent is granted
- November 6, 2008: SnOasis gets go ahead
A major consultation of the new plans will be launched after Easter before a revised planning application for the Great Blakenham site is submitted this summer.
The main focus has been to switch from a day resort centre to a staycation venue — in the hope that most guests will stay for at least a few days.
In a big move to consolidate the 'family' feel, the casino, gaming room and nightclub have been cut from the plans, as has the concentration on retail.
Other new additions include swimming, spas and a wellness centre; a water-park with a lazy river, a wave pool and a kids pool.
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There will also be outdoor pursuits like climbing and high ropes, zipwires, archery and adventure golf; as well as a winter park with toboggan runs and ice-caves in addition to the ski slope.
There are still plans to include restaurants and cafes, but there could now be 500 cabin-type self-catering lodges plus 450 rooms in the new four-star hotel.
Spokesman for Valley Ridge, Matt Harmer, said the company will be making sure they are a "good neighbour" to Suffolk residents and is keen for people to give their feedback in the consultation.
"We need to make sure there are only positive outcomes from this," he said.
"We need to make sure traffic becomes better with links to the resort and to make sure local people feel they are involved."
Discussing the impact of the development on people living in the area, he added a lot of "careful work" will be done by specialists and overseen by Suffolk County Council.
During the past decade the ever evolving plans have attracted criticism from villagers and local leaders, however the new vision for the complex hopes to rectify fears for the future of the area.
The company expects nearly one million visitors per year, with half of those hoped to be staycations.
The complex is set to create around 2,000 jobs during construction and about 1,800 once open.
To have your say on the consultation which launches live events after Easter, visit the website here.