Last week at Mid Suffolk Planning

The “Reserved Matters ” for the Snoasis planning application were agreed Wednesday last week. That’s all the details that were not covered when the Secretary of State agreed the application after the public inquiry in 2007. In fact a number of items in the legal agreement, the “section 106” document were changed to planning conditions, a process the government likes as it usually reduces the delay between application and the start of work. However in this case the district council and the developer have taken 10+ years to ge to this point so I wonder just how speedily things will develop from now on. The problem with conditions is that they are agreed at officers discretion so local people have little input.

We were promised that the “Local Reference Group” rather like the Liaison Group that I chair at the Suez EFW plant. I hope that will help to keep residents and the parish group in touch and get the local voice heard.

My input to the meeting as Ward Member

Is this a wonderful opportunity to gain a world class winter sport facility or just a chance to spend further years being assured with little supporting evidence that “finance is in place” while wilfully blind optimism drives a project that is just not viable.  If it were a good business project would we now be 13 years down the road with little to show?

Reserved matters were due to be presented in October 2016 two years 4 months ago but still appear to be incomplete.  There are many conditions left for officers to agree.  The parish alliance has wanted to engage on this important subject but has been unable to give final views or agree positions until proposals were finalised very recently.  That’s if they are indeed finalised.  The meeting was only set for today in the last two weeks and I only received some 350 pages of documentation last Thursday lunchtime.  I am sure you too spent the weekend reading but that is hardly a formula for sound judgment.  I have been exposed to the SnOasis concept, or is it fantasy, its problems and opportunities since 2003 but for some of you it will be new.

Issues such as the site drainage, waste disposal, lighting, power system and environmental impact need time to grasp so that you may be sure you are content with officer judgments or form your own views.  Have the measures to protect endangered species been resolved and agreed or are consultees tired of the project and its prevarication?  Transport by private car and by sustainable means is a serious issue producing much data that must be considered in detail have we really done that? .  Local people find it difficult to understand why the council has taken the escape route in the condition “Unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Council and the County no Occupation of any part of the Development shall take place unless and until the Railway Station has been commissioned and is available as a whole for use by the travelling public”.  This facility was a vital part of the decision by the public enquiry to recommend approval.  A contribution to improvements at Stowmarket is fine but hardly a valid substitute.  Will a bus route over such a distance persuade sufficient people out of their cars to make the traffic and congestion predictions valid?  Will we get what the inquiry was promised?

I believe that neither you nor the SnOasis Parish Alliance have had sufficient time to consider these partially completed reserved matters in sufficient detail.  You may be forgiven for thinking, “oh this is dragging on and on – let’s just get it done and off the table – it probably won’t get built anyway, its been going on for ever”.  I think that’s the wrong approach and is just too much of a risk.

A deferment until the proposals are truly complete would be appropriate, avoiding any suggestion of judicial review.  We are 2 1/3 years late, surely they can get things complete soon.

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