During the planning meeting last night (21st October 2015), attended by SuMA, the Planning Committee rejected the application for change of use for building 870, widely understood to be for Instro Precision to utilise the building for non-aviation use.
This was despite CAA advice on the matter considering the development not to have a significant impact on the potential operation of the airport. This advice was given, as noted in their email, “on the very limited evidence provided” which was also questioned at the meeting.
The Officer’s recommendation was originally to approve the application as an acceptable departure to the Thanet Local Plan Policy EC4 (Airside Development Area) and CC1 (Development in the Countryside) given the specific need for a building of this size for a local business and the economic and employment benefits of the proposal.
However several councillors spoke against approving this recommendation. The vote was carried to reject the original motion to ‘approve and delegate’. A new motion was proposed to reject the proposal on the grounds it would deviate from the Local Plan’s definition of it being land for “aviation use” and also because the loss of the building for airport use would potentially lead to the need to create additional buildings within the countryside should airport operations resume. This rejection was voted through almost unanimously.
Whilst this is fantastic news for the airport, we would expect that the owners will seek legal advice about a challenge to this, given the significant precedent it will set for the airport either way. Also bear in mind that there are separate planning applications that have been submitted for three other buildings which are currently under consideration. We hope that Instro Precision find an alternative location for their expansion.