Following on from our previous article updating on the Planning Appeals here, details have been released of Thanet District Council’s response to the Planning Inspectorate regarding the appeal on Building 870. This was the building that permission for change of use was refused by the planning committee.
The appeals will be subject to an “informal hearing” on the 13th July 2016 with a decision in writing to follow.
The statement again affirms that the change of use would be in conflict to the Thanet Local Plan (2006) saved policies as was detailed by the verbal representation SuMA made back at the original meeting on 19th August 2015.
We have extracted some parts of the statement below which appears to be a robust response to the appeal, but you can read the full statement here.
Local Plan Policy Validity
The consideration by the current owners (appellant) that the policies are out of date are countered by the following:
Policy CC1 (development in the countryside): “Thanet Local Plan Policy CC1 states that new development will not be permitted unless there is a need for the development that outweighs the need to protect the countryside. This policy remains fully in accordance with the NPPF and it is noted that the appellant has not provided any evidence to suggest that it should be considered out-of-date. Full weight should be accorded to this policy. ”
Policy EC4 (Airside Development Area): “The Appellant contends that Policy EC4 of the Local Plan is ‘out-of-date’ when considered alongside the requirements of the NPPF. However, the Appellant has not provided any convincing demonstration that the policy is ‘out-of-date’.”
“The Council’s strong position is that the policy is up-to-date and in broad alignment with the provisions of the NPPF. As paragraph 211 of the NPPF highlights “…policies in the Local Plan (and the London Plan) should not be considered out-of-date simply because they were adopted prior to the publication of this Framework”. It is acknowledged that the NPPF goes on to state that it is a material consideration in the determination of planning applications and that Local Plans may require revision to take into account the policies contained within the Framework (paragraph 213); however, considering that Policy EC4 can be considered to conform with the provisions of the NPPF it cannot be considered ‘out-of-date’.”
Prospects of Manston Airport being used for Aviation
It appears that the current owners are contending that policy EC4 is out of date as they contend the airport has no “realistic prospect of being used for this purpose for the foreseeable future“. The statement follows on “The Council is clear in its position that there are reasonable prospects for the continuation of aviation activities on the site. The Appellant, throughout their submission, contends that the airport has no realistic prospect of ever operating as such, but they have not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate this contention.”
The appellant points to the fact that Thanet Council decided not to pursue a CPO with RiverOak, however the statement goes on to say that although RiverOak did not fulfil the Council’s requirements and satisfactorily safeguard the Council financially, RiverOak are pursuing a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the airport and the Council also had three valid applications for the further round of soft market testing for the Compulsory Purchase Order process they are proceeding with.
“It cannot therefore be said that there is no realistic prospect of the airport use recommencing. The adopted Local Plan policies seek to protect the airport use in order to protect the resource and to maximise the prospects of an airport use being viable. The policy cannot therefore be considered out-of-date and full weight should be accorded to it.”
The statement notes that Building 870 was used for cargo handling amongst other tasks related to the airport and the proposed development would be for industrial use unrelated to the airport. It states that “…specific justification has not been provided to demonstrate that an airside location is essential to the development proposed.” Also, again that the loss of that building would “…potentially lead to the need to create additional buildings within the Countryside if the airport operations were to resume.”
The statement identifies that the Local Plan policies are “…designed to protect the protect the potential for the site to become an important employer once again.“. Also that the appealed proposal has failed to provide any justification that this is the only practical location for the operations when alternative suitable employment land exists in the area, including in the close vicinity to the airport.
Also interesting to note that “1.5 As a procedural point, the Appellant has requested that the appeal be determined on the basis of their original description of development. In the event that the Inspector accedes to this request, this does not affect the Council’s case.” when the application was modified before it was refused by the Council.