Next step for Thanet draft local plan -including removal of aviation-only use at Manston airport – approved

Manston airport photo Dean Spinks

Thanet councillors at a Cabinet meeting have agreed proposals to move forward with the publication of the isle’s Draft Local Plan, including amendments that mean Manston airport will no longer be designated for aviation use only.

The Local Plan is a blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure for the isle up until 2031.

It sets out how much development is needed to support the future population and economy. Allocating land through the plan is designed to give the council greater control over where and what type of developments can take place.

Consultation was carried out earlier this year on revisions to the plan included axing the aviation-use only designation at Manston airport and putting forward two new isle sites at Manston Court Road and Haine Road.

The issue was debated at a Cabinet meeting last night (October 25) in front of a packed public gallery.

The plan provoked criticism from councillors of all parties who had joined the meeting.

‘Slit your wrists’

Ramsgate UKIP councillor and mayor Trevor Shonk questioned his own party’s U-turn on the election pledge to return aviation to the site, Cllr Suzanne Brimm said the decision led to the question of whether “to slit your wrists or your throat first” and both she and Cllr Rosanna Taylor-Smith criticised plans for a 6 week consultation saying it should be at least 8 weeks.

Conservative councillor Carol Partington  raised the issue of transport and whether proper studies had been carried out for proposals for an inner ring road circuit and questioned housing numbers and the rate of delivery.

She also questioned why there was no Plan B for Manston when RiverOak Strategic Partners were due to submit a Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate next month in a bid to reopen the airport as an air freight hub with passenger services and business aviation.

She added: “Ninety per cent of DCOs that reach the second stage get approved so why have we got no Plan B?”

Conservative Party leader at TDC, Bob Bayford, said the Tories would continue to fight for aviation at the site.

‘Rock and a hard place’

Heckling came from the public gallery as council leader Chris Wells responded.

Referring to RSPs plans for Manston, he said: “As a council we are caught between a rock and a hard place. Whatever preference there is for a particular site with a particular purpose it has to be put forward with evidence that stacks up and at the moment it does not stack up.”

The reports to be published are the pre-Submission draft plan, the Sustainability Appraisal and draft Transport Strategy, alongside other supporting documentation and the Thanet Landscape Character Assessment.

Following publication and consultation the draft Local Plan will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for Examination.

‘Significant risk’

Cll Fairbrass said if the draft plan was not submitted for examination by next March 31 there was “significant risk” that higher housing numbers would be imposed by Central Government.

Government guidelines currently dictate a build of 17,140 new isle homes by 2031.

But this level of housing may need to rise even further following a government proposal to standardise the way local authorities work out housing need.

New proposals could see that figure rise to more than 20,200 homes, raising the requirement from 857 dwellings per year to 1063 dwellings per year.

Some 1,555 homes have already been constructed; another 3,017 have been given planning permission; 2,700 are accounted for through windfall housing –sites that have historically had planning approval and may be put forward again – and 540 are already empty homes.

This leaves 9,328 properties to be accommodated.

Revised sites would provide 3,450 of these

Manston airport

Manston airport site Photo Adam Dark

Manston airport was designated for aviation only use in the last Local Plan – which expired in 2011 – but the independent viability report by Avia Solutions led to a decision to consult on the site being open for mixed use development to include homes and business space.

The report stated that airport operations at the site are “very unlikely to be financially viable in the longer term and almost certainly not possible in the period to 2031”.

The airport closed in May 2014 after Stagecoach bus bus Ann Gloag bought it for a nominal £1.

A campaign to reopen the site has followed.

RSP is now embarking on a Development Consent Order for the site through Central Government.

The land is owned by Stone Hill Park which submitted a planning application for 2,500 homes, a business park, sports and leisure facilities and parkland and open space.

The Local Plan revision states: “The site has the capacity to deliver at least 2,500 new dwellings and up to 85,000sqm employment and leisure floorspace.

“The overarching principle …is the creation of a single sustainable settlement that can be easily served by public transport and good, easily walkable access to central community services.”

Latest revisions


The retail need at Westwood has been revised down to 23,903sqm to the end of the plan period from 36,280sqm. Retail need for the main towns is revised down to 39,171sqm. This is due to a reduction in spending power in the “High Street.”


Identifying a new site to accommodate advanced manufacturing and requiring the provision of community/business space on the strategic housing sites.

Green Spaces

A local green space will be afforded the same protection as Green Belts and new development will not be permitted other than in very special circumstances.

Recommended sites

Kitty’s Green, Broadstairs

Culmer’s amenity land, Broadstairs

Holmes Park Broadstairs

Land between Windermere and Kentmere Avenues, Ramsgate

Dane Valley Woods, Margate

Village Green, Foads Lane, Cliffsend

Meadow, Cliffs End Road, Cliffsend 8. Earlsmead Crescent, Cliffsend

Playground, Foads Lane, Cliffsend

Pierremont Park, Broadstairs

Memorial Ground, Lawn Road, Broadstairs

St Peter’s Recreation Ground, Broadstairs

Mockett’s Wood, Broadstairs

Westover Gardens, Broadstairs


Gas Depot site in Northdown Road, St Peters to be removed from draft plan

Westwood Lodge to be removed from Green Wedge area


Land at Shottendane Farm, Shottendane Road, Margate (8 dwellings)

Site known as Lanthorne Court, Broadstairs (up to 56 dwellings)

56ha of employment land, meaning an addition of 8.5ha allocated at the Manston airport site


Changes are being suggested to infrastructure plans

Manston airport site

Details of how the RAF Manston Spitfire and Hurricane memorial Museum and RAF History Museum will be safeguarded to be added


A policy for the protection of allotments;

A Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) for the Westwood retail area, detailing pedestrian connectivity and the goal of transforming Westwood into a cohesive town centre;

Policy support for new education and health facilities at key locations in the district;

Continuing the policy from the adopted Local Plan to safeguard land for grow-on space for the QEQM hospital


Debate at Overview and Scrutiny November 21

Back to Cabinet December 14

Debate at full council January

Publication of Submission version (full Local Plan) for a period of 6 weeks – mid-January 2018 (exact date tbc)

Submission to Planning Inspectorate – March 2018

Examination – June 2018..

The amended plan was approved by Cabinet members with just Cllr Rev Stuart Piper voting against..


  1. The plan for housing at Manston has a long history in my view. It may even be that we we were allowed to stand on a false ticket at the 2015 election.

  2. The sad truth is that this Council cannot be trusted about anything at all. They lied when they said they would ensure Manston would be re-instated as an Airport. This means that nothing they say can be accepted as true, no matter what they say! They have let their Electorate down. Need one say more?

  3. All I can say is that, by July 2015 UKIP councillors were briefed by Cllr Wells against RO. When some of us asked for a presentation and opportunity for discussion it was denied (more than once). When I invited RO to present at RTC, UKIP councillors were banned from attending – only one or two refused to comply and attended. So what happened between the winter/spring of 2015 and July that changed everything?

  4. It is quite clear that an alternative agenda is being pursued by this UKIP administration that is totally at odds with the needs of the area and the will of the people. It seems horribly likely that this is being driven by developers with the support of the council. The question remains why, when it is against all they were voted in on and is totally at odds with public opinion. One cannot help but wonder whether influence has been used by the developers?

  5. Early in your opening you mention “debated at a Cabinet meeting last night”. I totally disagree with your report in this respect. There was no debate whatsoever. There was a proposition on the table, non-cabinet members were asked for their views which were hardly answered with the chairman stating that they would be answered in writing and then a contrived one-sided vote on the proposal with one cabinet member voting against. Seems as though they take it turns to offer one to vote against. None of the cabinet raised anything to which other cabinet members could or did discuss. A total debacle!!

  6. The will of SMA, not the will of the people ! I think it is needless to say the will of the people would like this whole saga to come to an end and something put in place that will bring employment and homes for the residents sooner rather than later. The plans on the table from SHP are the only plans that are viable. We have had several reports already telling us the airport is not viable, we need to listen and go forward now.

  7. If you can not do the job you were voted in to do, you should have resigned! Especially after the Housing plan put forward by the Stage Coach quango!!! THANET doesn’t need more Housing or Empty Industrial Estates. Thanet needs JOB’S Clearly the Council is not tough enough or clever enough for the job. TOTAL FAILURE

  8. The airport was privatised nearly 20 years ago. From that point forward it has been in private hands and politicians have had little infleunce over what took place there. It was ridiculous of UKIP to promise that they would reopen the airport. The only people who could reopen the airport would be private investors but they would have to have very deep pockets and be prepared to lose the lot. Given its history, Manston is a high risk investment and this explains why no credible contenders have put themselves forward to reopen it. To its credit the council did the right thing by kicking RiverOak’s bid into touch. The company had no experience of running an airport and wasn’t able to cough up the money to progress their bid. Now, the council has no choice. Government policies do not allow them to sit on a valuable brownfield site and do nothing with it, particularly when so many new homes are needed.The decision which has been made is great news for Thanet. The airport has been a monkey on our backs for far too long. It has been an economic disaster for the area and we can now look forward to a more successful development which will provide both jobs and homes. I keep hearing that the Tories will try to retain the airport but it’s pretty obvious that this is political posturing. They know it’s dead and the ones who care about Thanet will want to allow the new owners to move forward. It’s not rocket science. If the owners now come forward with development which will create 400 jobs you’d have to be a pretty weird councillor to turn it down.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Its about time people looked forward rather than cling to a failed past.

      This airport nonsense needs knocking o the head once and for all and we can then all look forward to focusing efforts on bolstering a sustainable Thanet ‘mixed use economy’.

      Thanks very much but the freight lorries, diesel fumes, aviation fuel spray, huge noise disruption (both day and night) can go elsewhere.

      Staggers me that people actually want this – are you all deaf and blind with no sense of smell?

  9. There is clearly another agenda going on here and the intransigence and lack of transparency by the Leader beggars belief here.
    If he had any honour at all or any conscious about the pledges on which he got voted in, he would do the honorable thing and resign.

  10. “Thanet Councillors” (in the natural meaning of those words) did NOT APPROVE these changed: the Cabinet did, and that matters not two hoots until the Full Council considers the reasons and evidence on which the Cabinet based (or said it based) its decision. That will happen in January 2018. The Full Council will then either ratify, amend or reject the Cabinet’s decision. By then the DCO Application will be in the hands of the national Planning Inspectorate, and the Full Council will then be able to address the three key reasons that were offered for the proposed dropping of Manston’s reservation for aviation-only use: (1) the fact that TDC “has not seen RiverOak’s business plan”; (2) TDC “has not seen evidence that RiverOak has the financial means to carry their project through”, and (3) that Avia Solutions can be relied upon for its judgment that “the reinstatement of the airport cannot be made economically viable”. Actually, all three of those statements are flatly untrue or misleading. They ignore the outcome of Inspector Nunn’s findings on the Stone Hill Park Appeals, including a finding that the Avia Report was unfit for purpose and cannot be relied upon. They ignore the fact that Stone Hill Park did not challenge Inspector Nunn’s findings while they had time to do so. They ignore the fact that Thanet District Council offered no evidence at the Stone Hill Park Appeals after having withdrawn as a Party to those Appeals. They sidestep and dismiss out of hand the overwhelming number of objections that the public offered during a Public Consultation on the proposals that the Cabinet has now approved. They cannot properly require or expect RiverOak to submit their Funding Statement to TDC before it is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate as part of the DCO. And they ignore the well-documented evidence provided by RiverOak during its Public Consultation during this summer. They also ignore the fact that the Stone Hill Park Application for a “mixed use development” are in truth dormant, since that company has not complied with statutory requirements that would enable the Planning authorities to make any decision at all on it. Indeed, the Cabinet decision appears to have attempted to pre-empt and predetermine the outcome of the Planning Committee’s statutory function to consider and vote to approve or reject that Application. In sum, the Cabinet decision to support Stone Hill Park takes us no-where and does not in any way bind the Council. It reflects an agenda by the Leader of the Council which is totally incompatible with the promises and policies that he and his Administration were elected to implement, and they also reflect housing allocation numbers which Cllr. Brimm, until recently a leading member of his Cabinet, declared unequivocally to be based purely on speculation and not evidence-based sufficiently or at all.

  11. Sitting in my home on the Continent (Belgium) I was deeply saddened by the negative comments about Manston Airport. I really thought that, with RiverOak’s backing, we would once again see the aviation activity I saw as a boy.

    • Hi Andrew, I refuse to accept this (being a local and having worked at Manston for a total of just 29 years and 10 months. There are a lot of positive people here, but, unfortunately the Press never publish this. I think there is more to it than we are being told. There was a very positive meeting at Manston Village Hall on Sunday afternoon.

  12. The future for Thanet depends upon balanced sustainable growth. It is clear the idea that a failed freight enterprise at Manston can be magically transformed into a profitable venture is simply wrong. The evidence is clear to se not only in the assessment by aviation experts but also due to the fact that its failed before! There ae major airports close to London that are already under utilised in terms of air freight.

    New housing brings a boost to the local economy and to tourism. Thanet is now a key tourist location and is attracting people in to the area from the southeast to spend their money and relocate. If you think the future of Thanet is to once again be an isolated little enclave then think again. Bring back an airport and all the great work to develop the coast and hinterland as a place to visit will be killed stone dead with consequent impacts on the economy.

    Standing back looking at this its staggering that people get al dewey eyed about an airport. The noise the staggering and its clear nightflights would be in the mix – are people bonkers? is that what you want your environment to be like for families to grow up in? More road freight, more lorries, more noise, more air pollution. Good grief.

    Think of the job creation on a mixed use site at Manston coupled with a new train stop and throw in the boost to local spending as opposed to what? A handful of jobs created at an airport and where does any profit go from that? To the owners of the site not the local economy.

    Stop harking back to the not so golden old days and look forward to a bright and prosperous Thanet coast, a place that has a decent environment to bring families up in and attracts visitors throughout the year.

    The future is not going to be secured by venture capitalists chancing their arm at some idea about ‘an airport’.

Comments are closed.