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(Pic: The Snow Dome, Hemel Hempstead (C) Washbrooke - Harpenden, Herts, England - Tel: +44 (0) 7991853325 - email@example.com - http://www.richardwashbrooke.photoshelter.com)
The chances of the UK's biggest indoor snow slope being built have taken an apparent step backwards with the news that the main person behind the project has been declared bankrupt.
Snoasis envisages a disused quarry near Great Blakenham in Suffolk being transformed in to an indoor winter sports resort including a slope at least twice as long as the UK's longest to date. First announced around eight years ago it finally went to a public enquiry before getting the go ahead just around the time off property crash. Subsequent delays have been blamed on issues around protecting rare newts found on the site.
Godfrey Spanner, the gentleman concerned, has resigned from the board f developers Onslow Suffolk and says he remains confident the project will still go ahead. Planning permission is still valid for another four and a half years to late 2016.
The UK has six existing indoor snow centres including the world's oldest still operational, the Tamworth Snowdome, which was built 20 years ago and has trademarked the word 'snowdome' in the UK so that other indoor snow centres can't be called that.
The other five centres are at Milton Keynes, Braehead near Glasgow, Trafford near Manchester, Castleford between Leeds and Hull and the newest, the Snow Centre north of London.
Over the years there have been dozens of proposals for other indoor snow centres around the UK, most of which have not ultimately been built.
However UK towns and cities which are currently slated to get indoor snow centres include Weston Super Mare where work on an indoor snow slope linked to a large housing development is scheduled to begin this year.
Swindon too is due to see indoor snowfall in a few years time in the second phase of a redevelopment of a leisure centre there, and a 10 year old plan for an indoor snow centre for Cardiff has recently been given fresh impetus with the local council deciding on preferred bidders for the plan. There also remain plans for a centre in Blackpool.
Worldwide around 60 indoor snow centres are operation in 25 countries, the longest a 600m slope in France and the biggest covering 30,000 square metres in the Netherlands with an indoor 6 seat chairlift and hosting World Cup snowboarding events.
Although many skiers remain sceptical about the value of indoor ski centres, niche website snow365.com has estimated that 30 million people have learned to ski in them worldwide over the past 25 years making a substantial contribution to the wider ski industry.
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