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Mid Suffolk District Council asks Government to decide fate of proposed £500m SnOasis/Valley Ridge resort development

Mid Suffolk District Council is calling on the Government to determine the fate of a £500 million tourist resort by ruling on the future of a neighbouring landfill site.

The 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, in Bramford Road, Great Blakenham, beyond its scheduled closure in 2022.

Overview of the Valley Ridge scheme
Overview of the Valley Ridge scheme

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 Valley Ridge resort, formerly called 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 last year.

The new owners of the site were due to submit updated plans for the development imminently – with the economic benefit to the region expected to be significant.

Valley Ridge visual of the lodges
Valley Ridge visual of the lodges

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

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

In its objection to the Viridor application, Mid Suffolk District Council argues the proposed resort is of local, regional, and possibly national importance on account of the 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 up to 2035 – is also being sent to the national Planning Casework Unit, with a request the Secretary of State ‘calls in’ the Viridor application and decides the case himself.

Cllr Suzie Morley, Mid Suffolk District Council leader, said: “The massive benefits 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 co-exist, 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.”

Simon Padgett, representing Valley Ridge, said: "Valley Ridge is pleased to see Mid Suffolk District Council is calling for the refusal of the Viridor application. Valley Ridge agrees that the huge investment (jobs for £2,100 people and nearly £50 million added to the local economy every year) from the new resort in the local economy is crucial and agrees that the new family-friendly premium staycation resort is incompatible with the Viridor landfill application.

"Valley Ridge calls upon all parties, including Suffolk County Council and the Government, to ensure the Viridor landfill application is refused."

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