SnOasis is a proposed indoor winter sports resort in Great Blakenham near Ipswich, Suffolk scheduled to open in early 2014. Construction is due to start in 'late 2011'.
The 350-acre (1.4 km 2) project site is a former Blue Circle cement works and quarry, which is now partly restored farmland and chalk grassland. The ski slope will extend from the bottom of the quarry to 50 meters above ground. When completed this will be the largest real snow indoor ski slope in the world. The slope will be 100 metres high, 415 metres long, 70 metres wide and will be able to accommodate up to 1000 skiers an hour. There are several comparable slopes, including one at Neuss, Germany, but none have a vertical drop of 100 meters and the overall ski area of SnOasis will be more than double that of any other indoor ski slope in the world. Local planning permission for the project was granted on 21 April 2006 and public inquiry was announced on 26 July 2006 which upheld the decision, subject to conditions. Final government approval was granted by Hazel Blears on the 6 November 2008 concluding that all the conditions had been met. Construction work cannot start until Natural England, a government agency, issues a licence to move the wildlife. The project developers are Onslow Suffolk Ltd. The project has a budget of £300 million. The project is expected to create around 1800 new jobs in the local area once fully open, with 3500 jobs created during the construction phase. There is also a separate proposal to build 537 new homes adjacent to the site..
The resort will include various indoor and outdoor activities to suit a range of age groups.
- 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
- Multi purpose sports hall
- Health and fitness centre
- Outdoor sports pitches
- Roller blade track
- Rock climbing wall
- Swimming pool
- Jogging track
- Skate park
- 5-a-side football
Accommodation and amenities
- 350 log cabins
- 350 bed four-star hotel and conference centre
- 100 apartments
- 17 restaurants and bars
- Food court
- 20-lane bowling alley
- Snooker/pool hall
- Health spa
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. 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.
The developers estimate that the scheme will create 3,500 jobs during the construction phase and 1,800 when it is operational. That will also be offering an array of skills and training initiatives.
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. The developers plan to pay for improvements to the Copdock intersection of the A12 and A14.
Part of the site is in a Special Landscape Area designated a County Wildlife Site by Suffolk Wildlife Trust 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". Natural England objected from the start saying that insufficient measures to protect great crested newts on the site. The developers say they will be creating a 50-acre (200,000 m 2) ecological mitigation area.
Damage to the rural nature of the area
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 tree's in 40 acres (160,000 m 2).
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 m 2) of woodland will only cover 10% of the emissions. 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 and they also plan to plant 130,000 trees to act as a carbon sink.