Sir Robert McAlpine is set to build the Snoasis winter leisure resort in Suffolk after its sole rival Mowlem withdrew from the bidding process.

A source close to the project confirmed that Mowlem had pulled out, leaving McAlpine as the only contender.

Building understands that Mowlem's decision was a result of its takeover by Carillion.

Once it has begun, the 142 ha scheme will be the fourth largest development in England. The developer is Onslow Suffolk.

The local council is due to make a final decision on planning in April, after a series of delays caused by the size of the project.

The scheme, which is in Great Blakenham, outside Ipswich, will include 14 winter sports facilities, including an indoor ski slope and Britain's only speed-skating rink.

The British ski team has said it will make Snoasis its base, and the scheme will be used as a training centre for the Winter Olympics.

Onslow has also submitted a separate planning application for 536 houses surrounding the main complex. If planning permission is granted, housebuilder Persimmon has agreed to buy the land and develop the housing element.

Franklin + Andrews was appointed as cost consultant for the project last March. Work is due to start next year, with the scheme being opened in 2008.