Response to the Stone Hill Park Planning Application by Dover District Council

A positive and unequivocal response from the Leader of neighbouring Dover Council supporting the role of Manston as an Airport.

Dear Mr Livingstone

Redevelopment of Manston Airport – Planning application OL/TH/16/0550

Thank you for your letter dated 3 June 2016 requesting comments from Dover District Council on the above planning application.

Government Policy

It is fully recognised by Government’s own Select Committee that Heathrow and Gatwick airports are both running almost at 100% capacity and there is a desperate need for additional airport capacity in the South East. According to the Confederation of British Industry, the UK is losing business due to lack of airport capacity. This situation will undoubtedly continue for the foreseeable future given the fact that it may well take at least 15 years for a new runway to be up and running at whichever airport is finally selected. It is fully acknowledged that Manston will never be a major airport in the same sense as LHR and LGW but if some of the freight flights were moved to Manston from these other two airports, it could potentially free up slots for more passenger capacity in the South East, provide linkages to other airports such as Amsterdam, and bring much needed specialised jobs and skills to East Kent.

Development Consent Order

It has been widely publicised that RiverOak has now employed a professional and environmental team who are actively working with the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) to develop and validate RiverOak’s plans to submit a Development Consent Order (DCO). The DCO, which would be considered and assessed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, would encompass the compulsory purchase of the airport and the planning permissions required for the reinstatement of Manston as a:

• major international centre for air freight;

• reliever for the major airports of London;

• extensive aircraft recycling and engineering facility;

• base for at least one passenger carrier;

• flight training school; and

• fixed base operation for executive travel


RiverOak appear to us to be very serious about submitting a DCO and have appointed a dedicated professional team as they have very recently submitted a Scoping Opinion, which PINS are seeking comments on, prior to commencing a number of prior public consultations across East Kent in the coming weeks.

Kent County Council (KCC)

In its discussion document Bold Steps for Aviation (May 2012) Kent County Council supported the increased use of Manston Airport and stressed its potential to make a significant contribution to aviation in the UK.

“In Kent, Manston has the potential to make a significant contribution [to the UK’s aviation capacity], providing excellent communications to European destinations and reduced flight times”.

Thanet District Council Local Plan

The proposal to redevelop the airport for an alternative use would not be in accordance with Thanet District Council’s Adopted Local Plan (2006) which clearly states ‘The Local Planning Authority will oppose any development or use of land in the defined area which does not specifically require an airside location’.

East Kent Regeneration Board

East Kent Regeneration Board through the East Kent Growth Plan, ‘Open for Growth’ identified 12 Spatial Priorities for East Kent, including Thanet Central Island/Manston. In particular, it recognised the potential that Manston offered and stated:

“…… Manston in particular offers significant scope for growth, with new international passenger services starting in 2013, and an expanding freight market. Manston has the potential to develop as an airport of regional significance, while Lydd also offers scope for expansion. …”


Safeguarding Manston as an operational airport is also fully aligned with a motion which was passed by Dover District Council at a meeting of Full Council on July 2014:

‘This Council supports the campaign to retain Manston as an operational airport, recognising the role and place it can have in the UK aviation industry, making the better use of regional
capacity in accordance with the views of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, while making a significant contribution as one of the strategic priorities for regeneration of the East Kent area’.

Given that the planning application would not be in accordance with Thanet District Council’s own adopted Local Plan, RiverOak have given a very clear public intention that they intend to submit a DCO, combined with the considerable uncertainty about how airport capacity in the South East will be increased and our own Council motion that supports the campaign to retain Manston as an operational airport, we therefore object to this planning application on the grounds that it would be completely premature to make a decision on this planning application at this stage.

In the event that TDC considers that permission should be given to the application, it is considered that, given the proximity of the application site to Dover District and the various transportation and employment interactions among other matters, further detailed consideration should be given to the following matters:

• Full clarity on the transportation impacts and securing of funds through the S106 Agreement for full mitigations arising from the application;

• Further consideration of the access arrangements to the site using the A256/A299 Roundabout thereby relieving pressure elsewhere on the A299;

• A proportionate contribution should be made to Thanet Parkway Station;

• Consideration should be given to the build-out and phasing of the employment land and the impacts of supply locally in Dover District to avoid one locality prejudicing the other; and

• Further consideration/clarification should be given to any implications for ‘sky-line’ development, particularly associated with the proposed employment or leisure uses.

Yours sincerely

Paul Watkins
Leader of Dover Council