Major proposals to build a £500 million snow centre, creating over 5,000 jobs in the area, have been finalised today.
SnOasis, set to occupy a 350-acre former quarry in Great Blakenham will provide world class winter sport facilities such as a professional level ski slope, ice rink and bobsleigh run. The site will also accommodate an entertainment centre – with scope for further facilities such as retail units, a hotel, hostel and chalets.
Outline approval for the development was granted by central government in 2008 and again by Mid Suffolk District Council in 2011. Final details of the project, known as reserved matters, were considered and assessed against both local policy and the latest national planning policies, before being approved by the council last March. After assurance from the developers that detailed conditions addressing local concerns would be met, the council’s planning committee voted by 11 to three in favour of the project.
Following the resolution to approve the reserved matters in 2019, Mid Suffolk District Council and the developer have been working hard on a range of measures and public benefits that needed to be agreed for construction to start.
The package of conditions and obligations upon the developer include a requirement to operate to a highly efficient standard; with at least 75% of the development’s energy coming from decentralised and renewable/low-carbon energy sources, substantial upgrade works to Stowmarket railway station, and a raft of environmental, ecological and amenity controls to mitigate the impacts of the development from the start of construction right through to the ongoing operation of the development.
Now these commitments have been finalised, the chief planning officer has used emergency delegated powers to give the final green light for SnOasis, in the absence of regular committee meetings taking place due to Covid-19.
David Burn, Mid Suffolk District Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, said: “I am pleased with today’s decision by the chief planning officer, which reflects the will of our planning committee, the majority of whom voted in favour of the project last year. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has stressed the importance of councils ensuring that the planning system continues to function at this time of national crisis, prioritising planning decision-making where this will support the local economy.
“SnOasis couldn’t be a better example of this, as it will benefit not just the district but Suffolk as a whole, at a time when opportunities for employment and economic growth will be needed more than ever.”
A spokesperson for SnOasis said: “This is excellent news, and we want to thank the council for their ongoing support of this exciting project. In due course, we look forward to delivering an exceptional, fit-for-purpose, state of the art visitor experience, whilst creating thousands of jobs for the local community and beyond.”