Tonight, Thanet District Council in the Extraordinary Council Meeting, voted against progressing the draft Local Plan to the next stage despite dire warnings of Government intervention and increased housing numbers. In all, 35 voted against and 20 to approve.
If it had been approved, the Plan would have been published with the change of the Manston Airport site to mixed-use classification and gone out for a six week publication for feedback. It would then have been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for independent examination and they would also have received the representations made during the publication process.
It would seem clear that the overwhelming reason to reject the plan was the reclassification of the Manston Airport site from aviation only to mixed use.
We will see over the following days, weeks and months what affect that decision really has on our campaign for the airport and our area as a whole.
For now, we are left with a number of questions which should be properly answered in due course, many of which have been widely discussed on social media and opinions given, but now we will see what really happens.
Q. How will the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) now react with Thanet rejecting the proposal to publish the draft Local Plan, given they have already warned a number of Councils with intervention if they failed to meet the deadlines to publish? Will they use Thanet to set an example to the other Councils at risk?
Q. Will that mean that the Government will indeed take over the plan and remove both control and the ability for Thanet Council and residents to comment? Will there be a judicial review?
Q. Is there any possibility of beating the deadline and publishing a revised plan as at least some appear to believe, or will the Government intervention wipe that prospect away?
Q. Will the Government impose the increased housing calculations on our area from their consultation process?
Q. Will the Government look to take into account local wishes for the airport, or will they consider the site as brownfield and follow their targets for housing development?
Q. Will they reduce plans for housing numbers based on objections and local supply across the whole region?
Q. Will the new Local Plan for London, due out for consultation in June, have an effect on other areas such as ours?
Q. Without a Local Plan in preparation, how will that now affect planning applications being brought to Thanet? Will developers see a green light or steer clear?
Q. With the Local Plan voted down, will we now see aviation investors other than RSP provide real evidence of their interest? Has the vote aided other investors as was the strong suggestion beforehand or just RSP?
Q. When will Riveroak Strategic Partners submit their DCO and will it be accepted?
Q. How will Stone Hill Park now proceed with their application for the site? Will they await developments or will it either help, hinder or alter their plans?
Q. With a number of votes from UKIP rebels, what now for the party and TDC as a whole? Will there be a vote of no confidence in the leader, or will the party split?
Ever since the campaign nearly 4 years ago, Manston has remained extremely contentious and we will await the real effect of tonight’s decision on both our campaign and our area.
If you haven’t seen it already, and you are on Facebook, you can watch our recording of the meeting from earlier here: https://www.facebook.com/supportmanstonairport/videos/927278594106420