New SHP development plans to be unveiled for Manston airport site and RSP responds to ‘fantasy’ claims

Previous SHP plans for the Manston airport site

Changes to plans for housing and business space at the Manston airport site will be revealed by developer Stone Hill Park at two public exhibition events this month.

Last month SHP submitted a hybrid plan with a number of alterations made from the outline application following consultation events in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

SHP plan to develop the 303ha space 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.

But more changes have been made to the proposals and a fresh application is due to be submitted in the New Year.

Details of the changed plan will be revealed at the exhibitions next week.

Trevor Cartner, co-owner of Stone Hill Park, said: “SHP has an exciting new settlement scheme that will provide Manston with a new chapter in its long and cherished history; a chapter that would provide much needed homes and jobs for the district.

“Unlike the fantasy freight cargo hub plans from RSP, our proposals will honour Manston’s past as well as deliver real benefits for the people of Thanet.”

Current changes

In the version submitted last month changes to the original masterplan, which was submitted in 2015, include relocating the ‘wavegarden,- an inland surf lagoon -sports hall and courts, adding more residential areas to the eastern edge of the site, adding a village green and extra, smaller park areas and explanations for road layouts and ‘wavegarden’ facilities.

Housing has also been removed from the western end of the site, with the employment area extended.

Planning Inspectorate letter

SHP has also sent a second letter to the Planning Inspectorate about rival plans for the site from RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP).

SHP submitted a 41 page document, drafted by law firm Pinsent Masons to the Planning Inspectorate last month claiming RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP)  airport plans for Manston are ‘unlawful and an aviation fantasy.’

The planning and DCO law firm said RSP’s application for a development consent order (DCO) at the airport site 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.

RSP response

Bircham Dyson Bell LLP responded on behalf of RSP saying: “We are unclear as to the purpose of the letter, as it is strictly a matter for PINS to decide whether to accept an application when it is made, rather than having regard to the advance views of third parties about it. The allegations made will be resolved one way or another when PINS receives an application for development consent from RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd and then decides whether to accept it, then if it is accepted, during the examination into it, and ultimately when the Secretary of State decides whether to grant it.”

The law firm then addressed the points raised by SHP.

Among them was the issue of cargo movements and whether the RSP aviation proposal is a nationally significant infrastructure project. The law firm says SHP made a “basic error of confusing capability with projected use,” in its comments about projected cargo movements.

They also state that RSP’s ability to fund the project, and in particular to pay blight and compensation for the compulsory acquisition powers that will be sought, will be expressed in the funding statement submitted with the (DCO) application and tested through the examination as with other projects.


Bircham Dyson Bell conclude their response by saying: “When Stone Hill Park Ltd’s plans for the site are described, they appear to be in a significant state of flux. Various elements from the dormant planning application made in May 2016 seem to have been removed in favour of the potential for additional housing, for which they rely heavily on the emerging local plan.

“As you will be aware, as recently as July this year a planning inspector ruled that little weight should be given to it, when dismissing an appeal made by Stone Hill Park Ltd, and the existing local plan policy is consistent with national aviation policy. The emerging local plan is not scheduled to be adopted until the end of 2019, and may well be delayed beyond then. Stone Hill Park Ltd, and RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd, would therefore be wrong to rely on it.”

Second letter

SHP has now sent a further 80-page report by aviation consultants, York Aviation, that says RSP’s proposals are ‘simply not credible’ and claims RSP has previously incorrectly relied upon York Aviation’s work.

The letter says two specific reports, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and Transport for London (TfL) in 2015 and a note on Freight Connectivity for TfL in 2013, were used by RSP but York Aviation says: “Our analysis in these documents for the FTA and TfL does not support RSP’s conclusion that there would be a substantive or sustainable role for Manston in the UK air freight industry.”

SHP proposals

  • 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

Find more details of the hybrid plan here

The first public exhibition takes place on Monday, November 20 at the Holiday Inn Express, Tothill Street, Minster.

The second is at Pegwell Bay Hotel, 81 Pegwell Road, Ramsgate, on November 21. Both events will run from 3pm until 8pm.

RSP airport proposal

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 this month. 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.

Find more on the RSP proposal here

Both RSP and SHP will make a presentation to Kent County Councillors in Maidstone on November 21.