Government asked to determine fate of Valley Ridge

The government is being asked to determine the fate of a £500m tourist resort by ruling on the future of a neighbouring landfill site.

Mid Suffolk District Council is asking Communities and Local Government Minister Robert Jenrick to intervene, saying “the stakes are too high for a decision to be taken at a local level”.

Viridor Waste Management Limited has submitted a planning application to Suffolk County Council to extend the lifespan of the Masons Landfill site on Bramford Road, Great Blakenham beyond its scheduled closure in 2022.

However, permission would effectively scupper plans for a “premium staycation resort offering all year winter and water sports” on neighbouring land – potentially costing the region millions in lost revenue and jobs.

Plans for the resort, originally known as SnOasis, have been in development for several years, with outline approval granted by central government in 2008, by Mid Suffolk District Council in 2011, and reserved matters approved by Mid Suffolk District Council only last year.

The new owners of the site were due to submit updated plans for the development, renamed Valley Ridge, over coming weeks – with the economic benefit to the region expected to be significant.

The development is set to generate at least £320m, create approximately 2,000 jobs and raise more than £18m in business rates alone for Mid Suffolk District Council and £4.5m for Suffolk County Council to help fund services.

However, they have now put their latest planning application on hold, pending the decision over the Viridor application – saying their plans are incompatible with a landfill site next door.

In its formal objection to the Viridor planning application, Mid Suffolk District Council argues that the proposed leisure resort is of local, regional, and possibly national importance on account of the considerable economic benefits it would bring, particularly as the region tries to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A copy of the objection – which argues there is already sufficient landfill provision to meet demand in the county to 2035 – is also being sent to the national Planning Casework Unit, together with a request that the Secretary of State “calls in” the Viridor application and decides the case himself.

Mid Suffolk District Council leader, Suzie Morley, said: “The massive benefits that the development of the SnOasis site would bring are not worth sacrificing for landfill, particularly against the backdrop of a declared climate emergency and our local environmental waste strategy.

“Post-pandemic recovery will rely heavily on the support of the tourism industry, and this is a key objective of the government.  Those benefits would be lost should the Viridor application be approved; the two uses cannot coexist, as the new landowners for the SnOasis development have made abundantly clear.

“The stakes are simply too high for a decision on this application to taken at a local level.”

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