Despite the council officer’s recommendations that Thanet District Council should not pursue a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for Manston Airport the Leader, Chris Wells, and the vast majority of Thanet’s councillors, remain as determined as ever to pursue a solution to the re-opening of the airport.
A CPO of this magnitude was always going to be a very difficult process for a local council and we appreciate their efforts in trying. However, while the council’s soft market testing process itself proved to be an impractical conduit for the re-opening of the airport it was successful in that it attracted a wide variety of interest from potential investors.
The investors that the process attracted were, in all likelihood, not convinced of this unwieldy, protracted and expensive route. A CPO process doesn’t appear to fit modern day investment vehicles.
The good news is, however, that these interested parties have not gone away. There are many people working quietly behind the scenes to accommodate and progress the plans of these potential companies and we are reassured that only companies with aviation plans are being entertained.
In the same way that we consider a CPO to be an improbable route to a re-opened airport we feel that any ensuing DCO would prove to be the same, yet another protracted process with no guarantee of success. In our opinion, neither route would be the ideal solution to re-opening Manston. A more realistic, straightforward and, importantly, a quicker route would be through a cash buyer.
In the past offers have been advanced to the current owners, by more than one party, however, the investors presently involved are perhaps in a position to offer more realistic proposals. In addition, more than two years down the line of a campaign that won’t go away, the owners may now look more favourably on renewed purchase offers.
SuMA will continue to support every approach and all investors in order to find a suitable candidate to run a successful airport at Manston.