An appeal to change the use of four Manston airport site buildings has failed

The Inquiry Inspector has dismissed an appeal to change the use of 4 Manston buildings

The decision of a Public Inquiry over Lothian Shelf ‘s (718) appeal to allow the re-designation of buildings on Manston Airport for non-aviation use has been released.

Government Inspector Matthew Nunn, who headed the inquiry in March, has dismissed all four appeals.

The inquiry followed the refusal of one application and the non-determination by Thanet council of three others.

Lothian Shelf (718) Ltd appealed:

  • Non-determination of an application for temporary change of use – of 3 years – of Building 1 (referred to by the LPA as Building South of Terminal 1 (Hangar 1))
  • Refusal of an application for the proposed change of use of Building 2 (referred to by the LPA as Building 870)
  • Non-determination of an application for change of use of Building 3 (referred to by the LPA as Manston Airport Cargo Centre & Responding Vehicle Point)
  • Non-determination of an application for change of use Building 4

In his decision notice Mr Nunn said: “Even allowing for any DCO, it seems clear to me that granting permission for these schemes, contrary to Policy EC4 [retaining the site for aviation use], would be likely to compromise any future aviation use of the airport.


“ It might set a precedent which would be difficult to resist.  Consistent application of Policy EC4 is required to prevent the site becoming anything other than an airport, and speculative non-conforming commercial uses would undermine its designated aviation use.

“Indeed, the cumulative effect of such developments would mean that the airport, although currently closed, would begin to exhibit the characteristics more redolent of a business park, undermining the concept of an airport.”

The Inspector said he was not making a judgement on the merits of either the RSP proposals to revive the airport if its DCO application to the government is successful or SHP plans for homes and commercial use at the site.


He concluded: “I conclude that the appeal schemes would conflict with Policy EC4 of the Local Plan, as well as its wider economic development and regeneration objectives.

“The proposals would conflict with the council’s current approach to the location of new development within the airport, which is consistent with national policy.  The benefits of the scheme put forward by the appellants do not justify departure from Policy EC4 of the Local Plan.

“Hence I find there are no material considerations of sufficient weight that would warrant a decision other than in accordance with the development plan.  Accordingly, I conclude that the appeals should be dismissed.”

SHP response

Site owners Stone Hill Park, who were behind the appeal, said they were surprised at the decision.

Spokesman Ray Mallon said: “Stone Hill Park has been informed by the Planning Inspectorate that our appeal for the change of use of four buildings on the site has been refused.

“We believed the case put forward at the planning inquiry was compelling and I am somewhat surprised at the decision, as approval would have brought an immediate jobs boost to the area.

“Thanet District Council withdrew its original objections and a decision in our favour would not have compromised the possibility of a Development Consent Order being brought forward by RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP).

“It is therefore a mystery to me as to why the Planning Inspectorate has reached this decision, which in my opinion is flawed and an error of judgement on the part of the Inspector concerned.

“The quicker RSP submit their DCO application the better, so that their plans can be exposed to full public scrutiny and be shown for what they are.

“I am convinced that we will blow any DCO application out of the water, due to the aviation plans by RSP having little basis in fact or foundation and look forward to putting this whole subject to bed once and for all.

“We own the site, we are experienced in physical regeneration and more importantly we have the money in the bank now to deliver our plans.”

RSP response



George Yerrall, director of RiverOak Strategic Partners, said: “RiverOak is delighted with the outcome of the inquiry. We have always known that Manston should be an airport and the Inspector’s decision is a huge step forward for us.

“The decision recognises the importance of Manston as a unique piece of infrastructure and the need to protect it from opportunistic development.

“RiverOak is committed to pursuing the reopening of the airport and overcoming the artificial hurdles created by the landowners and Thanet Council.

“We look forward to bringing to fruition this important project which will create thousands of jobs.”


  1. you have many supporters in Deal Ash Sandwich and Worth too we need Manston Airport be it freight or passenger or both it’s East Kent’s heritage left by the good o’le Yanks chocks away

  2. A great decision which holds up and endorses Policy EC4. I applaud the decision of the Public Inquiry which also continues to give “someone” the opportunity to create a public and industrial flight service from this famous Airport.
    It would go a long way to sustain such a concept if the Railway was given clearance for future construction should the right entrepreneur come to light.

  3. good news,we’d definitlely use Manston airport as we did before this extremlely unwelcome intrusion by this Scottish outfit

  4. Come on SHP sell sell sell.. 3 potential investors waiting to buy.

    It is an AIRPORT and SHP does not do AIRPORTS so please sell sell sell.

    • Always used this airport love it it would be fantastic for it to open again I for one will first in line this would bring back so much to the area money jobs and convienience

  5. Typical response from Ray Mallon, bluster and wind, he knows better than the independent inspector

  6. The council should have dropped their commitment to aviation long ago. No form of airport at Manston is going to benefit Ramsgate and the surrounding area. Noise and pollution would make life under the flight path a nightmare. I cannot understand why local residents are not organizing against the Government’s housing requirements for Thanet, instead of rallying round the promotion of a cargo airport with frequent night flights.

    • Just shows your ignorance. There are no frequent night flights planned for any Airport at Manston due to the 106 agreement. There would be more noise and pollution if they built 2000 houses there!!

  7. You will be proved very wrong! Thanet will have more employment than it has ever known. The jobs projected by the documents saynit all.

  8. SHP, Mr Mallon & team – May I suggest you read this again? While Policy EC4 is still in existence, which it is, Manston Airport will continue to be an airport.

    He concluded: “I conclude that the appeal schemes would conflict with Policy EC4 of the Local Plan, as well as its wider economic development and regeneration objectives.

    “The [SHP] proposals would conflict with the council’s current approach to the location of new development within the airport, which is consistent with national policy. The benefits of the scheme put forward by the appellants do not justify departure from Policy EC4 of the Local Plan.”

    So therefore Manston Airport is still MANSTON AIRPORT!

  9. Can I suggest that comment is libellous and could be very expensive. You might want to think about deleting it!

  10. Hurrah for Mr Nunn; someone who could see through the bluster of SHP’s greedy, flawed intentions and has made the right decision on the road to protecting Thanet’s future prosperity. It’s an Airport not a property speculator’s “gimme”!

  11. Over the last three years, millions of pounds have been lost to the local economy as the legal owners of the site of the former airport have been prevented from using the existing redundant buildings. Hundreds of jobs which could have been created have gone elsewhere. It is sad to see the plane-spotters rejoicing at this decision, which consigns the site to an uncertain future. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is still lying empty ten years from now; another Pleasurama. The airport failed to create the jobs which were promised when it was open. Even in its redundant state it continues to blight the Isle.

  12. Fantastic, lets hope & pray that with foresight Kent International airport will survive, with the huge population growth due for the South East over the next 20 years and a huge increase of traffic on the infrastructure leading to other London airports, we truely need this localised hub.
    Canterbury alone attracts students from all over the world at both universities & language schools, decreasing their cost alone on transfer cost to Heathrow & Gatwick is a massive plus to the education industry here, thats without the benefit to those currently working at Discovery Park.

    MANSTON MUST survive, we will need it.

    Extend the high speed link and it can be a true ‘6th London airport’

    This would bring fare more industry, money & jobs to Thanet then the short term greedy developers plans…. Think ahead Kent.

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