We hope this will be a helpful overview of the current situation regarding the campaign. We will update this from time to time with the latest news, but if you have any comments or questions, please contact us.
Last updated 28th November, 22:00.
The current owners of the Manston Airport site, Stone Hill Park Ltd, have submitted applications for a ‘mixed-use’ site. The application includes ‘at least’ 2,500 houses. So far these applications have had a number of notable objections but are yet to be reviewed by Thanet District Council. Indeed if there were to at this point in time, as a result of the Public Inquiry into the change of use (see below), they could well reject them outright. On 18th November 2017, SHP announced a revised plan and held two consultations the week after. Their latest plans to be submitted in early 2018 include an improved heritage offering on the runway, but use of the Northern Grass for housing.
Applications were also made by Stone Hill Park Ltd to change the use of four buildings on Manston Airport, but these were initially rejected by Thanet District Council. The owner’s appealed and a Public Inquiry was held in March 2017. On 13th July 2017, the Planning Inspector dismissed the appeals so no change of use is currently allowed because of restrictions in the Thanet Local Plan. He did not rule that the site must remain an airport, instead purely based his decision on the status of the Local Plan.
The Thanet Local Plan is currently under review and could revert Manston to allow mixed use, but the door is open should new evidence prove that an airport could be viable.
The latest update on the Local Plan is that Thanet District Council cabinet voted to move the draft to publication and for review in January 2018, when public comments will be sent directly to the Secretary of State. There will be a number of TDC meetings before that time.
We are now in the excellent position of having a number of potential investors that have gone public, which can only be good for our campaign.
RiverOak, the US investment company involved from the time that the airport closed were originally rejected by Thanet District Council for partnership in a Compulsory Purchase Order, decided to proceed with a Development Consent Order. The DCO would require capacity to handle 10,000 cargo movements a year. Their statutory consultation process for this ended on 23rd July 2017 and they plan to submit the application during the first part of 2018 after further consultations announced on November 22 2017. It is expected that this process would take approximately 16 months to be determined. In late 2016, the US RiverOak sold its rights to the DCO process to a new company, RiverOak Strategic Partners.
In November 2016, Edi Truell of Disruptive Capital, former pensions and investments adviser to Boris Johnson when Mayor of London announced his interest in acquiring Manston for aviation in November 2016.
I and my infrastructure investment team believe that there is a real case for the restoration of airport operations at Manston. Our team have invested in 14 airports around the world. Indeed are under exclusivity to acquire another airport in Australia.
In May 2017, Dale Crawford of DTD Consult, a representative of a US logistics company with roots in Europe announced their interest, including looking for a base for 12 of their clients’ aircraft and over £100 million initially available for investment. Read more
My clients see the tangible benefits of having a fully operational logistics capability combining both the Air and Sea port. Developing employment opportunities and a sustainable business environment is to be kept as our main aim.
We are applying to be Thanet District Council’s indemnity partner in the CPO process and we are required to prove that we have the funding and capability of returning the Airport to full Aviation use whilst bringing tangible benefit to the local communities.
Both Edi Truell and Dale Crawford have entered into discussions with Thanet District Council.
On 15 October 2013, Infratil announced they would sell the airport to a company wholly owned by Ann Gloag, co-founder of Stagecoach Group. Manston Skyport Ltd took over the running of the airport on 29 November 2013. On 19 March 2014, it was announced that a 45-day consultation period into the closure of the airport had begun. Daily losses were said to be running at £10,000. The airport’s chief executive announced that the airport could close on 9 April 2014. On 25 March 2014 KLM announced the suspension of their flights to Amsterdam from 10 April, leaving the airport without any scheduled passenger traffic. KLM later described the way they had been forced out as being “stabbed in the back”. More details here.
Multiple bids were entered to buy the airport by parties including Riveroak Investment Corp. These bids were refused by the airport owner which was branded as “corporate vandalism” by Sir Roger Gale MP. This leads many to believe Ann Gloag and Pauline Bradley’s plan was for re-development for the start. The airport ceased operations on May 15th 2014.
Thanet District Council was petitioned by campaigners to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order on the site. Potential investors including RiverOak participated in the process, but only they were considered to proceed to the next stages of the process. However, they were unable to supply the Council with sufficient evidence to satisfy the process and to ensure the Council was indemnified from any costs.
In September 2014, it was announced that Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave had purchased a majority stake in the Airport site for an undisclosed fee. They now have decided to rename the site as “Stone Hill Park” and plan to redevelop the site to include housing and “mixed-use”.
On 2nd February 2015 Manston Airport was discussed in a Commons Select Committee session as part of their Smaller Airports Inquiry.
After the elections, RiverOak were again invited to tender for the CPO process, but on 29th October 2015, Thanet District Council again rejected their application. http://www.supportmanstonairport.org/thanet-district-council-cabinet-decides-to-take-no-further-action-on-the-cpo-at-the-present-time/
In December 2015, RiverOak announced that they would be instead using a Development Consent Order process to attempt to obtain Manston.
In January 2016, Thanet District Council announced a new soft marketing exercise to find an indemnity partner for the CPO but by 25th May 2016, no further action was again recommended on a CPO process but two investors were still interested in a direct purchase.
Public Inquiry over Change of Use
The site owners, Stone Hill Park Ltd applied for change of use on four buildings at Manston from aviation use only. The Planning Committee of Thanet District Council rejected one of the applications back in October 2015, but failed to respond in time on the other applications. They did however later resolve that they would have made the same decisions on the other cases. Stone Hill Park appealed against the rejections, but such was the complexity of the matter, the Planning Inspectorate decided that it required a Public Inquiry which was carried out in March 2017.
Thanet District Council withdrew their objections to the original applications before the Inquiry was held. RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) appeared at the Inquiry as a Rule 6 party.
The decision released on 13th July 2017 by the Planning Inspector, Mr Nunn, dismissed all of Stone Hill Park’s appeals.