New Study Commissioned into the Viability of Manston Airport

Thanet District Council have posted that they have instructed an independent viability study into the future of Manston Airport to determine its role within the developing Local Plan.

Thanet District Council is seeking independent advice on whether Manston Airport has a viable future as an operational airport.

This is needed to support the council’s Local Plan process and to meet Government guidance in relation to preparing Local Plans.

Expert aviation consultants, Avia Solutions will undertake the study over the next two months.

The council needs robust evidence of whether or not an airport could be viable and whether there would be a reasonable prospect of that occurring within the period of the Local Plan – up to 2031. This is to ensure that the Planning Inspector is satisfied that the council has done all it can to explore the future of this site when it comes to submission of the Local Plan. Policies and allocations in the Local Plan must be supported by evidence.

The findings will be used by the council to set out the future planning policy for the airport site within its new Local Plan and to inform planning decisions in relation to the site.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Hasn’t the council previously undertaken an economic viability study?

An independent study was undertaken by aviation industry experts, Falcon Consultancy Ltd following closure of the airport. The findings were discussed by Cabinet on 31 July 2015. View a copy of the report.  Since then, the Davies Commission report on Airport provision has been published. Separately the council has also undertaken two soft market testing exercises in relation to its consideration of a potential CPO of the airport.

2. How much will this cost?

This is expected to cost a maximum of approximately £50,000 due to this being an area of specialist, technical expertise requiring rigorous analysis.

3. How were the consultants selected?

The consultants were selected in accordance with the council’s procurement procedures. The council invited five companies to quote.

4. Will this delay the Local Plan process?

 We don’t anticipate a delay to the Local Plan timetable.

5. Is this linked to the recent announcement around the public inquiry?


The council was notified on Monday 11 July 2016 by the Planning Inspectorate that a public inquiry, rather than a scheduled appeal hearing, would be undertaken. The planning inquiry is in relation to four planning applications to change the use of buildings on the Manston Airport site to non-aviation uses.

The viability study is an issue for the district’s Local Plan – which is a separate process.

The council put out a brief for consultants to carry out a viability study on Friday 10 June 2016.