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Two head to head in Suffolk slalom


A £350 MILLION development to turn one of the f lattest places in Britain into a skiing destination has developed into a two-horse race.

Mowlem and Sir Robert McAlpine are both discussing the SnOasis project in East Anglia with developer Onslow Suffolk. Some smaller packages will be let to local contractors.

The ski resort is planned at a 42 ha former quarry in Great Blakenham, just north of Ipswich.

Both firms and the developer are keeping their cards close to their chests but Onslow Suffolk confirmed it was talking to contractors about the scheme.

The construction contract is expected to be worth between £250 million and £300 million.

The site was identified by local planning authority Mid Suffolk District Council as suitable for a tourist resort at the turn of the decade and planning approval is expected to be granted by next spring. A winner should be announced around then.

The centrepiece of the resort will be a 100 m high indoor ski slope, which will be 80 m wide and stretch for 500 m. There will be facilities for 13 winter sports including ice skating, ice and dry climbing walls, bobsleigh and the only speed skating circuit in Britain.

Other facilities at the Centre Parcs-style resort include a nine-hole golf course, 350 self-catering ski lodges, a fourstar, 350-bed hotel, conference centre, cinema, casino, restaurants, bars, cafes, a nightclub, bowling centre and shops.

The resort, which has been backed by the British Olympic Association, will also be home to a centre of excellence for a number of winter sports. The British ski team has already said it will use the resort as its headquarters to train for future Winter Olympics.

Franklin & Andrews was appointed as cost consultant for the project in March this year.

Work is due to start next year and SnOasis should open in 2008. The developer expects 800,000 visitors a year.

Onslow Suffolk has submitted a separate planning application to build 536 houses surrounding the main complex.

House builder Persimmon has been lined up for this phase of the project.