SnOasis

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SnOasis
SnOasis Map2.PNG
Location of SnOasis
Location Great Blakenham
Proposer SnOasis
Cost estimate £300m
Close up location

SnOasis is a controversial proposed indoor winter sports resort in Great Blakenham near Ipswich, Suffolk UK currently scheduled to open in 2020.[1] It is planned be the largest real snow indoor ski slope in the world with a 415 metre long slope, 70 metre wide run, and a 100 metre drop; accommodating 1000 skiers per hour. There are several comparable slopes, including one at Neuss, Germany, but none have a vertical drop of 100 metres and the overall ski area of SnOasis will be more than double that of any other indoor ski slope in the world.[citation needed]

The project is being promoted by Onslow Suffolk Ltd[2] with a budget of £300 million and would create around 1800 new jobs in the local area once fully open, and 3500 jobs created during the construction phase.[2] There is a separate proposal to build 537 new homes adjacent to the site. The scheme is being opposed by SnOasis Community Alliance which represents 11 town and parish councils and by SnOasis Concern.

History[edit]

The site was acquired in 2001 and planning permission was applied for in 2004.[3] Local planning permission for the project was granted on 21 April 2006 and public inquiry was announced on 26 July 2006[4] which upheld the decision, subject to conditions.[5] Final government approval was granted by Hazel Blears on the 6 November 2008 concluding that all the conditions had been met.[6] Construction work cannot start until Natural England, a government agency, issues a licence to move the wildlife.

The majority shareholder of the scheme in 2008 was an Irish private equity group First Equity Group, which owned 70% of Onslow Suffolk with debt funding provided by Allied Irish Bank. The managing director was Godfrey Spanner.[7]

In January 2011 the promoters said that construction would start in 'late 2011'.[3] However, the leader of Mid-Suffolk District Council has stated that the scheme is highly unlikely to go ahead.[8]

In February 2011 Mr Spanner, was found guilty by the High Court in February 2011 of wrongful trading in a separate venture, Onslow Ditchling Ltd, of which he was a director which had been liquidated with debts of £900,000. The judge, Mr Justice Norris, said Mr Spanner and the other director of Onslow Ditchling Ltd showed "wilfully blind optimism" and "reckless belief". Mr Spanner says that the verdict will have no impact on Snoasis and that he is appealing the verdict.[9]Mr Spanner was declared bankrupt in March 2012 and no longer has any link with Onslow Suffolk.[10]

As of April 2011 a number of planning issues were still outstanding and the predicted opening date had been put back to November 2014.[9]

By February 2013, Godfrey Spanner, manager for the SnOasis project, said he was confident that once a business plan on the new railway station on the site is completed, work can start and will be finished by 2016.[11]

In November 2016, the developer stated that he hoped SnOasis would be open in 2020 and that "It will become a reality" as £20m had already been spent on the project. He explained that once SnOasis is built, it would be home to 14 winter sports, the worlds largest snow dome, and the UK's first speed skating circuit.[12]

On the 16th November 2016 the Mid Suffolk Council confirmed that it had registered and was considering an application to satisfy all outstanding matters and that a final decision by its Committee was due in 2017 following a recommendation by senior planning officer, Steven Stroud.[13]

The scheme remains controversial.

Features[edit]

The resort will include various indoor and outdoor activities to suit a range of age groups.

Winter sports[edit]

  • One of the largest indoor ski slopes in the world: 415m long with 100m vertical drop - virtually international competition standard.
  • Nursery slope 100m long with a 9m vertical drop
  • External ice rink
  • Full length 100m drop dry run bobsleigh track
  • Luge run
  • Cross country ski run
  • 400m speed skating / ice track
  • 16m ice climbing wall & 50m ice wall

General sports[edit]

  • Multi purpose sports hall
  • Health and fitness centre
  • Outdoor sports pitches
  • Roller blade track
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Swimming pool
  • Jogging track
  • Skate park
  • Squash
  • Tennis
  • 5-a-side football
  • Rowing
  • Windsurfing
  • Sailing
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing

Accommodation and amenities[edit]

  • 350 log cabins
  • 350 bed four-star hotel and conference centre
  • 100 apartments
  • 17 restaurants and bars
  • Food court
  • Shops
  • 20-lane bowling alley
  • Snooker/pool hall
  • Cinema
  • Nightclub
  • Health spa

Transport[edit]

Some 600,000 visitors are expected per year with 2000 parking spaces provided on the site itself and a new railway station at Great Blakeham on the Great Eastern Main Line with a further 500 spaces.[14] The main access routes by car will via the A12 from the south and the A14 from the west. A12 traffic will join the A14 briefly at the Copdock roundabout which would be improved.[15]

Employment[edit]

The developers estimate that the scheme will create 3,500 jobs during the construction phase and 1,800 when it is operational.[16] That will also be offering an array of skills and training initiatives.[15]

Opposition concerns[edit]

Traffic[edit]

Concern has been expressed by some local residents over potential traffic congestion. They stated that the traffic modelling at the Copdock Roundabout was unrealistic and was based on only 737,000 visitors in first year and 825,000 in the second without sufficient sensitivity testing for higher traffic levels. They also expressed concern about the potential for traffic from the south to 'rat run' through Sproughton saying this had not been considered. [17]

The developers plan to pay for improvements to the Copdock intersection of the A12 and A14.[5]

Biodiversity[edit]

Part of the site is in a Special Landscape Area designated a County Wildlife Site by Suffolk Wildlife Trust[18] and protected great crested newts and badgers will have to be moved as part of the planning agreement.

The Suffolk Wildlife Trust objected on the basis that there would be a "significant loss to biodiversity".[5]

Natural England objected from the start saying that insufficient measures to protect great crested newts on the site.[19]

The developers say they will be creating a 50-acre (200,000 m2) ecological mitigation area.[15]

Damage to the rural nature of the area[edit]

It was stated that the huge development would be out of character with the rural location with increased noise, air and light pollution with a negative effect on tranquillity in the area although they are adding 140,000 trees in 40 acres (160,000 m2).[20]

Climate change[edit]

sNOasis Concern estimate that the SnOasis site and its visitors are likely to generate at least 34,000 tons of CO2 per annum exacerbating climate change and that the proposed 40 acres (160,000 m2) of woodland will only cover 10% of the emissions.[21]

The developers claim that 75% of their energy will come from renewable sources include a large-scale woodchip burner and a proposed "energy from waste" incinerator on land adjacent to the site is also proposed [19] and they also plan to plant 130,000 trees to act as a carbon sink.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-37837797
  2. ^ a b "Job boost thanks to skiing centre". BBC News. 23 November 2008. Retrieved 28 November 2008. 
  3. ^ a b "Developer says SnOasis is on track to open in 2014". BBC News. 4 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "SnOasis plans face public inquiry". East Anglian Daily Times. 26 July 2006. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Go-ahead for £350m snow dome plan". BBC News. 8 May 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  6. ^ "Final Government Approval". BBC News. 6 November 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  7. ^ "Blears says Suffolk's Snoasis is the white stuff". 
  8. ^ East Anglian Daily Times 31 May 2012
  9. ^ a b "More hold-ups for Suffolk's SnOasis sports resort". BBC News. 21 April 2011. 
  10. ^ East Anglian Daily Times 31 May 2012
  11. ^ "Suffolk: Doubts raised over start of SnOasis project next month". Ipswich Star. 8 February 2013. 
  12. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-37837797
  13. ^ "Snoasis". www.midsuffolk.gov.uk. Retrieved 2016-11-18. 
  14. ^ "SnOasis Latest News". SnOasis Concern. Retrieved 6 November 2008. 
  15. ^ a b c "SnOasis News". 
  16. ^ "joba and careers". Snoasis. 
  17. ^ "Latest news". SNoasis Concern. 
  18. ^ "Go-ahead for £350m SnOasis plan". Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  19. ^ a b Sherlock, Grant (6 November 2008). "Four-year battle to win approval". BBC Suffolk. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  20. ^ "Should SnOasis be built?". Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  21. ^ "Carbon Dioxide emissions from SnOasis". sNOasis Concern. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°06′33″N 1°04′06″E / 52.10926°N 1.06822°E / 52.10926; 1.06822