Thanet council and Stone Hill Park have responded to a consultation over a revived Manston airport

RSP plans for Manston airport

A revived Manston airport will have a “significant impact” on the number of new homes needed across the isle, according to Thanet council.

The comment was made in response to the consultation carried out by RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) which aims to reopen Manston airport as an air freight hub with associated business aviation and passenger services.

RiverOak closed consultation on its proposals for the airport site on July 23. The company aims to submit an application for a Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate.

Following the statutory consultation, the DCO application will be submitted later this year. A decision by the Secretary of State is expected by the end of 2018. If RSP gets the green light for its plans it says the opening of the re-built and refurbished airport will be in 2020.

Thanet council response

But Thanet council has responded to the documents made public by RSP by raising concerns that the impact of the predicted creation of 30,000 jobs across the region by the airport’s 20th year of operation.

TDC says the proposals would mean a loss of 2,500 homes earmarked for the Manston airport site in its draft local plan. It says another 56 possible homes approved for the Jentex site at Cliffsend would also be lost, adding: “The total housing shortfall resulting from this development would be at least 2,612.”

Jentex is also proposed as the possible site for fuel tanks for the proposed freight hub.

Under the local plan – a  blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure over a 20-year period – Thanet needs to have created 17,140 new homes by 2031.

The response to RSP says: “The development of your airport, by virtue of the estimated job numbers created both directly and within the supply chain, has the potential to significantly affect the objectively assessed need for housing within the East Kent region.”

The housing estimate for the Manston airport site, under the draft local plan, was made prior to a planning enquiry  over change of use of four airport buildings that found Policy EC4 [retaining the site for aviation use] was still valid.

The response also raises the question of burden on local services and the impact that flights would have on the tourism industry of Thanet.


On the issue of noise TDC says: “We are significantly concerned about the potential impact from your proposed development on the living conditions of those residential occupiers within close proximity of the airport, those residents living under the (indicative) flight paths, especially in relation to night flights, as well as disruption to multiple schools within Ramsgate.”

Visual impact of airport buildings and air quality concerns are also raised, with the suggestion that a permanent air quality monitoring station should be installed if RSP’s Development Consent Order to compulsory purchase the land from owners Stone Hill Park application is approved.

The response also questions the impact on roads and the method of disposal should an aircraft teardown facility be in operation.

In its conclusion TDC says: “There are potentially significant detrimental environmental and amenity impacts on Thanet and its local community from the development. Therefore with regard to the public consultation we await further information following the completion of the required survey and investigatory work.

“However, particular concern is raised that the ramifications for the emerging Thanet Local Plan have not been adequately quantified, and there is a lack of information relating to delivery of the project.”

Stone Hill Park response

Landowner Stone Hill Park (SHP) has submitted a master plan and outline planning application to Thanet council for 2,500 homes; an advanced manufacturing focused business park; sports and recreational facilities, with the former runway becoming the focal point for a network of parkland, trails and outdoor space, and a ‘heritage hub’ at the site.

SHP says it expects its planning application for the site to be examined by Thanet council later this year.

In its response to the RSP consultation documents SHP says: “Our principal comment is that in our opinion the consultation material fails to demonstrate that the proposed development is deliverable, on the following principal grounds:

  1. There is no evidence of RSP’s ability to fund the proposed development;
  2. The Outline Business Case and suggested ‘market opportunity’ is fundamentally flawed and not credible;
  3. RSP does not own the land that it proposes to develop, and does not present a credible means of acquiring it;
  4. The level of detail provided in the Preliminary Environmental Report (PEIR) is inadequate to reach even a preliminary view on the likely environmental effects of the proposed development, or the scope of mitigation necessary to make it acceptable;
  5. There is no evidence to demonstrate a genuine ability/intention to deliver the proposed development.”

RSP plans for the future of Manston

RSP hopes to reopen the airport in a £300m project to create an air freight hub with passenger services and business aviation. It bought out the DCO rights from the original proposing company RiverOak corporation last December.

In one volume of its reports compiled as part of the DCO process it states: “Direct on-site jobs are predicted to be 2,150 by year 5, of which 697 posts are forecast to be created by the airport operator. The direct employment figure will rise with increasing freight tonnage and passenger numbers.

“By the end of year 5, the indirect and catalytic jobs forecast to result from the operation at Manston Airport are 4,515 and 8,601 respectively, and 8,970 and 17,085 by the end of year 20.

“The total figure for jobs created by the operations of Manston Airport is forecast at around 30,000.”

RSP plans for construction will be phased over 15 years and will include a total of 19 freight stands and four passenger stands for aircraft as well as warehousing and fuel storage to meet the forecast demand.

There are also plans for education and training, flight training school,business aviation and passenger services. Earlier this month RSP announced a partnership with Securitas to implement and operate a full suite of fire and security services at the site.

RSP aims to handle some 10,000 air cargo movements a year by its sixth year of operation equating to 14 arrivals and 14 departures a day, around two flights an hour “during normal operating hours.”

Read the documents here



  1. This paragraph from TDC is most puzzling. They are worried we won’t have the housing for the extra jobs created….they would rather have housing without jobs then?

    “Notwithstanding these concerns, the implications of proposed job creation on the amount of housing required in both Thanet and East Kent is a significant concern. This is briefly mentioned at point 13.9.8 of the PEIR, characterised as a major adverse – significant (impact). The emerging Local Plan’s stated housing need to 2031 (17,140 homes) is predicated upon the expected addition of 5000 jobs in the same period. The development of your airport, by virtue of the estimated job numbers created both directly and within the supply chain, has the potential to significantly affect the objectively assessed need (OAN) for housing within the East Kent region. ”

    So TDC have 17,140 home for 5000 jobs. Where pray will the remaining 12,140 home owners be seeking employment?

    • That is a very good comment Mark, because that is what would happen! houses built but no jobs to match.
      Also i note that there is no mention of an upgrade of the road infrastructure to cope with the increase in cars from this site,taking in to account possibly two cars per household.
      Look at Thanet at the present time GRIDLOCK!!!.

  2. RSP’s plans envisage the creation of 19 new stands for cargo and up to three stands for passenger services.

    There’s no possibility of SHP succeeding in the wake of Inspector Nunn’s recent decision on the matter of the Stone Hill Park Appeals held in March 2017.

    Thanet District Council still don’t get it: the airport is still zoned as an Airport, and Saved element EC4 from the 2006 Local Plan still applies.

  3. In my opinion, Mr. Nunn’s ruling related only to the change of use appeals and is of no wider significance than that. When it comes to the main application, the validity of EC4 will be measured against government policy on house-building which will be a far sterner test. In his justification, the inspector was able to attach little or no weight to the new local plan on grounds that it could be changed. If we reach the point where it isn’t going to be changed that justification disappears. He was also able to justify his reliance on saved policy EC4 by claiming that there is a realistic prospect of a DCO succeeding. This comes dangerously close to pre-determination, when a DCO application has not even been submitted or accepted. How realistic RSP’s plans are is called into question by the stinging, informed criticisms levelled against them by both TDC and SHP. It’s only my opinion, but the change of use appeals are of little or no significance when it comes to SHP’s main application.

  4. Inspector Nunn also accepted that the Avia Report in its own terms failed to consider the viability or otherwise of RSP’s business venture. We know that the author of that report was offered access to that plan on the usual basis that the information contained in it was at that point commercial in confidence. He refused to consent to that and therefore entered an explicit caveat that Mr. Nunn accepted stripped it of any relevance. The report he issued thereafter was discredited in evidence what was not contradicted by SHP. TDC continues to rely on nothing more solid that the Avia report, and at the time of the Draft Local Plan Consultation explicitly relied on nothing else on the curious grounds that it could rely on nothing other than the exceptionally hasty report TDC had commissioned. TDC’s failure to consult with Dover District Council prior to formulating the Draft Local Plan, which TDC had a duty to do, is potentially a fatal defect, which is another reason why Inspector Nunn could place no reliance upon it. We know that Dover and probably Canterbury are supporting RiverOak’s proposals and that Dover disagree with the basis on which TDC forumulated its housing calculation. The most likely outcome is that TDC will have no option but to undertake an entirely fresh look at the proposed changes and that will have to be evidence-based. Without Avia to rely upon, but having to consider not only Mr. Nunn’s decision and reasons for it, and also having to factor in the unresisted evidence produced by RiverOak as a party to the Stone Hill Park Appeals, it is most unlikely that TDC can reasonably, rationally or fairly depart from the saved element EC4 in relation to the reservation of Manston Airport for aviation use only, nor that the Stone Hill Park application can be decided before the Secretary of State for Transport determines whether to grant or reject Development Consent of the RiverOak project. The fact that Stone Hill Park has not yet provided the local authority with the environmental impact studies required for planning consent also speaks volumes. The Stone Hill Park business model depends upon the sale of subdivisions within the airport estate to house-builders and other developers. It is highly unlikely that such firms will attracted or risk the total loss of their capital investment without knowing the outcome of the DCO Application. Cheggers should understand that a DCO runs with the land, not with the present owenrs. If granted, the DCO and any compulsory purchase provisions within it would apply to any successor in title. Were the sale of any subdivisions or units to be accomplished when by due diligence it would be clear that an application for development consent under the PA 2008 could be anticipated for the land in question, then no successor in title would be entitled to receive any compensation for the subsequent compulsory acquisition of the land by RiverOak.

  5. “.. it is most unlikely that TDC can reasonably, rationally or fairly depart from the saved element EC4 in relation to the reservation of Manston Airport for aviation use only..” Hogwash. It’s written in black and white that new local plan has to be both flexible and deliverable. With the airport shut for three years the council has no option but to allow for plan ‘B’ and they’ve done this by including the option for a mixed development. EC4 cannot be retained because there isn’t an airport there, hasn’t been an airport there for three years, and the DCO is purely speculative at this stage. It hasn’t even been submitted, let alone accepted. It simply isn’t possible to retain EC4 in the new local plan because, as both TDC and SHP have pointed out, RSP has not demonstrated that its plans are deliverable.

  6. Cheggers: have you read the Avia Solutions report? If you have, you will have noticed a big notice at the very beginning of the document and yet TDC is standing by the report and relying on it in order to support its opposition to thr rejuvenation of Manston. God knows what SHP is relying on.

    Disclaimer of Liability
    This publication provides general information and should not be used or taken as business, financial, tax, accounting, legal or other advice, or relied upon in substitution for the exercise of your independent judgment. For your specific situation or where otherwise required, expert advice should be sought. Although Avia Solutions Limited or any of its affiliates (together, “Avia”) believes that the information contained in this publication has been obtained from and is based upon sources Avia believes to be reliable, Avia does not guarantee its accuracy and it may be incomplete or condensed. Avia makes no representation or warranties of any kind whatsoever in respect of such information. Avia accepts no liability of any kind for loss arising from the use of the material presented in this publication.

  7. We need the airport reopened for job’s & the rejuvenation of thanet……
    Has TDC considered the amount of housing been built in a 10 year plan behind westwood cross …
    The building’s on & within the airport site has already been deemed aviation use only & not residential etc use……
    The airport is an airport zone & alway’s will be & all TDC are doing is wasting money trying to defeat this ……
    Stonehill park has not done a transport,utilitie’s,pollution report for their proposed development ……
    But the people that want to redevelop the airport have already started putting contract’s etc in place ready ……
    TDC are not looking at this responsibly & thinking of what Thanet need’s
    TDC is not doing their job right consulting the public/other council’s etc on the plan’s …..

  8. I meant to say TDC are not doing their job’s right by not consulting other council’s & the public

  9. Roy Davies. TDC is not relying wholly on the Avia report to conclude that an airoort at Manston isn’t viable. There have been numerous independent reports over the years which have come to the same conclusion. In fact, the only people who have ever come up with a view that it is viable are people with a vested financial interest. But we could argue abotu what the experts say all day. There’s a far more reliable indicator of the airport’s sheer uselessness. You will recall that it was open between 1999 and 2014 as a civilian airport under a succession of operators. All lost money and, despite bold promises, none was able to make anything of it. You will recall that Mr. Freudmann was in charge during one of those stints. Why on earth would you expect anyone to believe that he now has the magic key to success? Did it come to him in a dream?

  10. May I suggest that Margate high street be bulldozed and rebuild nicer properties , and bring Margate back to a smart town , and get rid of the terrible drunks and filth lying in the streets,
    We need an airport to rejuvenate kent, plus it has worked before as an overflow runway to Gatwick, and Heathrow,
    How is building more houses going to help kent, jobs are needed far more than houses which will be filled with people on benefits which will drain the coffers even more

  11. So many errors in such a short contribution. There is no “need” for an airport at Manston. It closed three years ago and the world hasn’t ended yet. In fact, since it closed Ramsgate’s fortunes have improved. It was open as a civilian airport for 15 years. It didn’t matter who owned it, Manston lost money. It did absolutely nothing to rejuvenate Kent. In fact, it was a barrier to economic regeneration because nothing else could take place there whilst the failing airport was still writhing around in its death throes. Manston was never “an overflow runway to Gatwick and Heathrow. You may not like it but I’m afraid that’s a fact. Last, but not least, pray tell us how “people on benefits” are going to purchase the smart new homes which are being planned for the site. It’s far more likely that these properties will be bought by young people who are working hard to make something of their lives, and just need an opportunity to get on the property ladder; an opportunity which the Save Manston Group are intent on denying them.

  12. Cheggers, you should (re-)read the decision by Inspector Nunn on the Stone Hill Park appeals.

  13. Cheggers, RiverOak quite agree that Manston was unable to deliver high profits or shift more cargo than in the past without considerably more investment in infrastructure. RiverOak have said that 30,000 was about the most that it could handle with only one cargo stand for handling dedicated freight. But RiverOak expect to build nine new cargo stands before the airport reopens, with further construction of nine further stands in subsequent construction phases. That changes the economics of the airport altogether. Dr. Sally Dixon’s figures demonstrate how and when that impacts on the benefits Manston has to offer. It is not a Nationally Significant Intrastructure Airport now. It will be the first to be classified as such through the Development Consent process.

  14. I think somebody has been having a little joke at your expense, Dr. Pritchard. Manston’s capacity may well have been constrained by its infrastructure, but this would only have come into play if they’d been able to attract sufficient business. They couldn’t, and that’s the key reason why they kept losing money. You’re supposed to be a clever bloke. Think about it. If they’d been able to attract more business and make a profit by improving the infrastructure, don’t you think they’d have done it? I don’t deny they “talked” about expansion plans. But the business case was never compelling enough to go ahead. There were always underlying issues which couldn’t be changed by throwing money at it: Manston’s in the wrong place; the runway’s poorly aligned and the road infrastructure won’t support a major airport. Nothing’s changed. The business case has not been made.

  15. Where is the evidence that RSP (not RiverOak which abandoned the issue) has any moeny at all? It is registered in Bleize, and so we cannot see the records. It is amazing that people can have such confidence in a company which provides us with no info, and which is led by a struck-ff solicitor

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