LOCATION:   Great Blakenham, Suffolk

PROJECT TYPE:   Geotechnical site investigation

VALUE:   £45K


SnOasis is a proposed indoor winter sports resort, a project that will be unique in the UK.

Location of SnOasis is the 123ha former chalk quarry, near Great Blakenham in Suffolk.

The plans include:

  • Indoor snow facility with a 74m high ski-slope – one of the largest in the world
  • Bobsleigh run, ice wall and other leisure facilities
  • Hotel, ski lodges and apartments
  • New homes with a new railway station on the Norwich to Ipswich line

Harrison Group was commissioned to carry out a ground investigation, in order to gather information on groundwater levels and soil permeability across the five different geological formations present.

The results of this would enable consultant BuroHappold Engineering to carry out a flood risk assessment and drainage design for the commercial element of the proposed development.


Fieldwork was carried out over just nine days and comprised:

  • Two cable percussive drilling crews, completing 10 cable percussive boreholes to depths of up to 20m, with the installation of monitoring standpipes
  • Two pitting crews completing 41 machine-excavated, gravel-filled BRE365 soakaway tests up to 2.6m depth
  • Post-fieldwork groundwater level monitoring using in-situ dataloggers

Soakaway tests were completed with 3 infillings, or left over 24 hours at locations where infiltration was poor. Datalogging equipment was used for tests in remote areas of the site.

Work was carried out during the winter months when the ground surface was particularly soft, and, in places, impossible to traverse with 4×4 vehicles. As a result, specialist equipment was used to move the drilling rigs and transport materials to the required locations.


Fieldwork data was provided to the engineer within a day of fieldwork completion and the factual report provided to the client/engineer within two weeks.

David Palmer from BuroHappold Engineering said, “We have been delighted with the support we have received from Harrison Group and grateful for the timely release of the report”.

Artist’s impression of the completed development


Typical machine-excavated trial pit on the site