Snoasis: it’s under way

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WORK can finally begin on the long-awaited SnOasis complex after developers got the go-ahead from planning officials at Mid Suffolk District Council.

Site developers have had approval on a number of reserved matters relating to the housing site at the development, in Great Blakenham.

At a planning meeting last Wednesday, officials approved the final details, meaning that work can now commence at the site.

Developers were desperate to begin work on the site before the end of March to secure a £5.85 million grant from the Homes and Communities Agency Kickstart 2 scheme. But problems with details in the plans delayed the starting date.

Jim Carroll, SnOasis spokesman, said: “Work will commence in the next few weeks so that’s good news.”

Onslow Suffolk, the developer behind the £350 million SnOasis complex, had planning permission approved by the Secretary of State in 2008.

Orbit Homes Ltd will be delivering the housing site, which will comprise 380 homes - 113 of which are affordable housing units - and a local centre, primary school, police station, doctors surgery and retail buildings.

Cllr Marilyn Curran, portfolio holder for housing at Mid Suffolk, said: “It’s very positive and we are very pleased that it’s happening. It’s an important development.

“It was a former industrial estate and it’s now being put to excellent use.

“It’s going to be important for the local economy, bringing lots of jobs, tourism and affordable houses which are a priority for us in Mid Suffolk. It will hopefully boost our rural economy.”

Jeff Knowles, residential development director at Orbit Homes, said: “We are delighted we can now start work on the Great Blakenham site, which will bring high-quality, much needed homes to the area.”

Problems were raised with the siting, design and landscaping of the local centre in February, meaning that plans had to be amended and re-submitted to the planning meeting on March 16 for approval before building work could commence.

The new plans were approved last week after developers showed changes in their plans, including the size and position of the local centre and police station, the addition of a lorry turning area, additional car parking spaces, and changes to the site landscaping to include ‘more appropriate species’.

The housing site will be built on a former Masons cement works site and land belonging to the Ministry of Defence, in Gipping Road. Developers plan to build 81 of the 113 affordable housing units on the site by summer 2012, and all of the homes will be allocated to people in Mid Suffolk.

Keith Willetts, chairman of SnOasis Concern, said the housing site is completely separate from the sports complex and that he does not believe the funding for the SnOasis development is there.

He also said that the building work cannot go ahead because they still haven’t moved the wildlife. He said: “There’s a lot of birds and badgers on the site, but no diggers.”