Stone Hill Park document to Planning Inspectorate brands RSP Manston airport plan as ‘aviation fantasy’

Manston airport Photo by Dean Spinks

Law firm Pinsent Masons have sent a 41-page document to the Planning Inspectorate claiming RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP)  airport plans for Manston are ‘unlawful and an aviation fantasy.’

The planning and DCO law experts, working on behalf of landowner Stone Hill Park which proposes a business, leisure and housing development at the airport site, say RSP’s cargo hub plans fail to meet the Nationally Significant threshold as they have measured the wrong starting point for the airport’s capacity.

‘Cannot lawfully proceed’

They claim the application for a development consent order (DCO) cannot lawfully proceed for a number of reasons, including the DCO consultation material being too threadbare to meet  the ‘satisfactory standard’ legal test; a non-compliance with new tougher environmental impact assessment regulations, RSP being a new firm and not the original RiverOak applicant and their consultation being inadequate.

Stone Hill Park also claim that RSP ‘misrepresented’ cargo views of nationally respected aviation firm, York Aviation, who have since joined Stone Hill Park’s team.

Photo Dean Spinks

A new legal and aviation team working for SHP says the RSP application evidence is flawed because experts have calculated the current site is  capable of 21,000 aircraft take off and landings (known as air traffic movements or ATMs) which is 4,000 more ATMs than the 20 year-end target of 17,171 under RSP’s proposal.

They also claim RSP failed disclose the impact of aviation noise, on the highway network, air quality, human health and the environment.

‘Fantasy freight’

Trevor Cartner, of Stone Hill Park Ltd said: “This compelling new legal and aviation expert advice reveals the RSP proposals to be the sham that they are.

“The only reason RSP has been trying to pursue its proposals as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project is to try and obtain powers from the Secretary of State to compulsorily acquire the site for a fantasy freight airport. Even if such an airport was a realistic proposition, it would cause nightmare noise, air pollution and traffic gridlock for local residents and businesses.”

SHP say they have informed the Planning Inspectorate that they have  incurred ‘significant’ costs as a result of  RSP’s actions and will be seeking to recover these “when RSP’s application for a development consent order (DCO) is aborted or rejected.”

The firm says the cost, which includes loss caused by the delay of SHP’s plans to date, is expected to amount to multi-millions of pounds.

RSP: ‘Confident’ of case

A spokesman for RSP said: “RiverOak Strategic Partners disagrees with the basis on which Pinsent Mason has arrived at these conclusions. We are confident that all of the detailed work we and our professional advisors have undertaken, for the DCO application, will clearly and robustly make the case that our proposals for Manston meet the threshold for a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.”

Housing expansion

Mr Cartner revealed the SHP plans for the Manston airport site involve the creation of 4,000 homes – 1,500 more than originally proposed.

In a statement issued today the firm said: “Stone Hill Park’s 800 acres is currently the largest strategic site for new housing in Thanet’s emerging local plan, contributing to 14% of the council’s total housing provision in the period to 2031.

“Loss of the 2,500 plus homes within the Local Plan Period and the future expansion potential of a further 1,500 homes on the site  as part of SHP’s plans, would leave the council with no choice but to allow the development of hundreds of acres of Thanet’s countryside.”

SHP submitted a masterplan for the site to Thanet council in May 2016.

Proposals include:

  • A village with at least 2,500+ homes within the Local Plan period, and ultimate capacity of around 4,000 homes subject to final masterplanning
  • Starter homes, family homes, and retirement homes, including homes to buy, rent (including affordable), and shared ownership plus energy and water efficient homes.
  • Schools, nurseries, local shops, cafes, community halls, parks, playgrounds, and sports facilities
  • 2,000+ permanent jobs in a hi-tech manufacturing business park, plus 1,600 construction jobs and training opportunities.
  • A capital investment of £500m
  • Heritage plans including an enhanced Spitfire & RAF museum.
  • Public open space and regionally significant sports and leisure facilities, including Kent’s only 50m swimming pool and surf lake, other destination attractions

Airport proposal

KLM Manston first flight

Riveroak Strategic Partners (RSP)  hopes to acquire the site through a Development Consent Order and reinstate air freight, passenger, executive travel and aircraft engineering services.

RSP says the proposal will create almost 30,000 jobs by the airport’s 20th year of operation.

George Yerrall, director of RiverOak Strategic Partners, told The Isle of Thanet News in May: “From the date that the airport reopens, almost 6,000 jobs would be created – around 850 jobs on the airport site itself and a further 5,000 indirect and catalytic jobs in the wider economy, in associated industries or businesses.

“The positive economic impact grows each year along with the airport. We have forecast up until the 20th year of operation, by which time 30,000 people in Thanet and East Kent would be able to trace their job to the revival of the airport.

“We have a real opportunity to tap into a proven demand for air freight that other South-East airports simply can’t meet. The £2 billion lost to the UK economy each year is set to almost double by 2050, even with an additional runway at Heathrow. Manston Airport is ideally placed to help recapture this traffic, which is being displaced to northern Europe. In meeting this demand, we create huge employment potential for Thanet and provide a powerful economic boost for the nation.

“We are in the process of discussing with local colleges and businesses how best to maximize career and supply chain opportunities in Manston.”

The DCO is due to be  submitted by the end of the 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.

Manston airport closed in 2014 with a loss of 144 jobs.

Read here: Key moments in the Manston airport saga from £1 sale to housing and cargo proposals


  1. SHP’s plans have changed yet again since their spokesman, Ray Mallon, spoke on Radio Kent a few months ago. He said out of 2000 jobs, 1600 would be temporary construction jobs. That leaves 400 permanent jobs at Manston, not 2000 in a manufacturing industry with no demand, as Dover District Council have confirmed. No call for large units in industry, they tell us.

    Since RSP have quoted £300 Million is to be invested in Manston, SHP suddenly tell us that they want to invest £500 Million. Don’t make me laugh, SHP. How long do you think it would take to recoup £500 Million on a housing estate full of affordable, social housing? Pull the other one!

    SHP’s plans are a joke and since submitting their plans to TDC in May, which were criticised by Southern Water, (re the aquifer and water supply), the Environmental Agency, Manston Fire Service, Dover District Council, etc. As far as I’m aware, no further tests or amendments have been made to address these problems with their plans. So, what exactly is going on? The recent Public Inquiry deemed Manston Airport buildings for Aviation Only anyway, which RSP and TDC as well, appear to have forgotten. The Avia Report was deemed flawed. The government are being ignored. Not a great move, I suspect.

    Thank goodness the DCO will soon be submitted to PINS who, hopefully, will see the true value of reopening Manston Airport. Not only as a valuable asset for Thanet, but as a National asset.

    And for those critics of its staff, RiverOak will own it, not run it, so any previous successes or failures at Manston are irrelevant. It needed investment and that’s what is about to happen at last, thanks to RiverOak’s constant belief in our airport.
    Save Manston Airport.

  2. Sorry, Correction above in paragraph 3. It should read that “The recent Public Inquiry deemed Manston Airport buildings for Aviation Only anyway, but both SHP (not RSP) and TDC as well, appear to have forgotten.”

  3. A busy airport at Manston would be an environmental disaster for the residents of Ramsgate. the town could kiss goodbye to all hopes of rviving it

    A busy airport at Manston would be an environmental disaster for Ramsgate. The town could abandon any hope of becoming a popular tourist destination again.

    Criticisms of Stone Hill Park’s plans, and personal abuse towards the owners of the site, do not equal the making of a strong case for re-opening the site as an airport.

  4. With the airport open it would bring revenue in for buisnesse’s,Hotel’s,job’s etc & bring thanet back to life to which it has suffered with the ferrie’s etc gone ….
    First everyone want’s the airport back then they don’t want it….
    Make your mind’s up & also BRING THE AIRPORT BACK….

  5. It is a waste of time continuing this discussion any longer. Why are we waiting years and years for something to happen there. Can whoever is responsible please just get on with it now and stop hanging about. All this not knowing what is happening seems to go on and on and on !!!

Comments are closed.