SnOasis unlikely, says council chief

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A COUNCIL leader has cast fresh doubt on the £300 million SnOasis winter sports complex ever being built.

Tim Passmore, of Mid Suffolk District Council, thinks it is ‘highly unlikley’ that the proposed winter sports complex at a disused quarry, in Great Blakenham, will come to fruition.

He confirmed that so far about £500,000 had been spent on the ongoing planning process for the development.

Cllr Passmore said: “As time drags on and bearing in mind the economic situation in the country, I think it’s highly unlikely.

“It’s been going on for so long. Somebody else could come along and buy the whole site. The planning permission is live and that goes on the property not the person.

“All of this is very disappointing. We were hoping three or four years ago it would have been more or less built by now.”

Godfrey Spanner, a consultant to Onslow Suffolk Ltd – the company behind the plans – said the development was being held up due to difficulties over a required railway station.

As part of the planning conditions, a station should be operating in Great Blakenham for six months before the complex can open.

However, it is not yet known who the rail franchise holder will be in the long term.

Mr Spanner, who resigned as managing director of Onslow after he was made bankrupt, is still responsible for delivering the project.

He said: “Our franchise doesn’t go to tender until 2014 so we can’t negotiate the terms of the railway station with the operator until there is one.”

He added that he was ‘surprised’ by Cllr Passmore’s comments.

“As far as I’m concerned, there’s no question. It’s taken us 11 years to get where we are and we’ve spent an enormous amount of money. We will deliver SnOasis as soon as people let us do it.”