Film studio plans for Manston Airport ditched

Now there’s a surprise. If the current owners were so confident of their ability that the CPO/DCO and the other investors were unlikely to succeed, surely they would have pressed ahead anyway? Perhaps they are just using that as the excuse for what appeared to be yet another PR pipedream to try and win the public over. In the vast majority of cases, that just didn’t work and people saw through the various “aspiring” facilities that would be on the site.

What are we left with?

Housing classed as “aspirational” – does that actually mean that we would be aspiring to afford one so are unlikely to be able to own one? Alternatively are the houses going to be like most modern developments, high density housing crammed in with insufficient parking and garden space? It will be interesting to review details in the planning application when it is published.

Other areas assigned for employment promising “highly skilled jobs” in “advanced manufacturing” when in fact they are unlikely to be picking and choosing which companies actually occupy the buildings, so we may just end up with the same mix as we have everywhere else.

Suggestions that the museums would be looked after and allowed full use of the Northern Grass, a valuable real estate area, with a view that perhaps we are all just plane spotters and won’t worry about the fact we haven’t got a functional airport any more (with jobs specific to the aircraft industry and linked businesses that aren’t available in the area)? There can be no doubt that we fully support the museums on the site and would love for them to be expanded with heritage engineering and become even better local attractions. It would be horrifying to see them crowded in by development as has happened elsewhere.

Retaining of the runway and ecology park – perhaps because of the “line of sight” restrictions on anything being built over that side?

Our long running campaign continues to return the airport as such and we continue to support options to return Manston to aviation use.


“The developers of homes and offices on the former Manston airport have ditched their flagship plans for a film studio on the site, which they said could have been the base for a future Bond movie.

A planning application featuring 2,500 homes on the 800-acre airfield, to be known as Stone Hill Park, was submitted this week and shows no sign of movie-making facilities, which it had been suggested could create up to 2,000 jobs.

Last June, its owners Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave said they had met representatives of a consortium looking for an appropriate site for a new film studio that included digital and animation businesses.

However, this week their spokesman Ray Mallon confirmed the proposals are “dead in the water”, blaming the delays caused by Thanet council considering a compulsory purchase order (CPO) for the site, which they eventually decided not to pursue.

RiverOak, a US group which tried to buy the site from its former owner Ann Gloag, are preparing a case for a development consent order (DCO) which, if successful, would clear the way for them to reopen the airport as a cargo hub.

Discussions with the film studio had been described last year as at an early stage but Mr Cartner and Mr Musgrave, who also own business estate Discovery Park in Sandwich, were confident it was a serious proposition.

However, Mr Mallon told Kent Business this week it would have taken up too much space, with its developers asking for 200 acres of the overall 800-acre site.

He said: “It is dead in the water. It will take too many acres and take too long.

“In addition to that, the would-be occupier of the film studio didn’t have time to lose.

“They could see a lot of toing and froing in relation to the CPO and DCO. It is an example of how the economy can be affected by these shenanigans.

“The studio operator said they couldn’t waste any more time so they are looking for pastures new on other sites.

“In any case, we believe what was required was too many acres. It was an awful lot and we got them down to 100 acres but we wanted to retain the runway and it was going to be too crammed.

“It was ambitious on the acreage we had available.”

Stone Hill Park has already faced embarrassment over the film studio plans when its developers received a letter from lawyers at Pinewood Studios asking them to stop using its images in their PR material, which had been used without consent.

Dr Beau Webber, chairman of the Save Manston Airport Association, which backs RiverOak’s takeover plans, said: “We think they are scratching around for any idea they can.

Manston airport: Film studio plans ditched by Stone Hill Park developers

“What we have heard about these plans is very dubious. The housing they want is high density.

“There are a lot of green spaces but what will happen when they have filled the housing is they will build on that. We are very suspicious of the plans.”