Thanet’s Draft Local Plan – a blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure up until 2031 – will be voted on by Full Council on Thursday (January 18)
The plan 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.
Transport, employment and infrastructure -such as roads, schools and GP surgeries – are also examined in the plan.
Consultation was carried out last year on revisions to the plan, including axing the aviation-use only designation at Manston airport – which was shut down in 2014 – and putting forward two new isle sites at Manston Court Road and Haine Road.
The plan’s housing target is 17,140 new isle homes by 2031.
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 9,300 properties to be accommodated.
Revised sites would provide 3,450 of these.
Higher housing target?
The overall figure for the isle could rise to more than 20,200 homes following a threat of government intervention issued in November by Secretary of State Sajid Javid, from the Department for Communities and Local Government. He said the failure of Thanet and 14 other authorities to meet deadlines to put a local plan in place meant the government may serve notice of its intention to intervene.
This would result in the higher housing target due to government proposals to standardise the way local authorities work out housing need.
The sticking point
But the change of status for Manston has become a sticking point, with the possibility that it may cause the plan to be voted down.
The aviation-use only clause was part of the isle’s last valid local plan which was adopted in 2006.
But Thanet council say the authority commissioned AviaSolutions report, published in 2016, concluded that “airport operations at Manston are very unlikely to be financially viable in the longer term and almost certainly not possible in the period to 2031.”
They say a credible CPO partner for the site has not been found with proposals from RiverOak, now RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP), not providing necessary financial evidence.
Their conclusion is that there is no evidence to support retaining the aviation-only designation. The Local Plan document says: “At the Proposed Revisions consultation, the site was proposed for mixed-use development, including 2,500 dwellings and 85,000sqm of business space. There are also other implications to be considered if the airport site were not allocated for mixed-use development.
“Firstly, it creates uncertainty over the soundness of the draft plan, as the council would not be following the evidence regarding the viability of the airport.
“Second, the 2,500 dwellings allocated in the Proposed Revisions would have to be re-allocated elsewhere. The council cannot simply remove the allocation without meeting the overall housing requirement for the district.”
Stone Hill Park proposal
A mixed use plan has been submitted to Thanet council by Stone Hill Park, which owns the Manston site. The plan is for up to 4,000 new homes over 20 years; a new hi-tech manufacturing business park; a new country park and a state-of-the-art sports and leisure village.
It will also include moving Manston’s two museums – subject to their agreement – to a new ‘Spitfire Quarter’ next to the runway, which would have an area for heritage aviation. An updated application is due to be submitted to Thanet council.
RSP rebuttal and proposal
RSP and airport campaigners criticised the Avia report for having “basic factual errors and questionable methodology.”
They require the aviation only designation to stand. RSP is currently carrying out consultation and plans to lodge a Development Consent Order with the government which would allow a CPO of the land.
RSP aims to reopen the airport site in a £300m project to create an air freight hub with passenger services and business aviation.
Theirs is a four phase plan across 15 years to create 19 new air cargo stands, update the runway, four new passenger aircraft stands and updated passenger terminal, refurbished fire station and new fire training area, aircraft recycling facility, flight training school, hangars for aircraft related business, highway improvements and the creation of a museum quarter.
Controversially, the newest consultation documents also state the possibility of night flights with up to 8 freight movements a night between 11pm and 7am.
An RSP spokesman said: “Our plans for Manston are built around daytime aircraft movements, as this is what the UK air cargo market is deprived of at present. However, for Manston to be truly effective as an air freight hub, and therefore able to deliver the jobs we are determined to create in East Kent, some level of night flights may prove necessary.
“We have therefore decided to set out our proposals for mitigating and minimising the impact of any future night flights at an early stage, so that the community can give us their feedback while we are still finalising our DCO application.
“Ultimately a decision about night flights will be a matter for the Secretary of State at the conclusion of the examination phase of the DCO.”
SHP – ‘forced housing allocation’
SHP say opposing the Local Plan and excluding the Manston site from their potential housing supply, will expose the wider community to the ‘forced allocation’ of 5,923 homes on what would be otherwise undeveloped sites.
Maps produced for Stone Hill Park, with the input of their planning consultants GVA, illustrate the potential impact of such a ‘forced allocation’ of housing on the community.
The additional sites are not currently envisaged in the local plan.
The report for SHP predicts additional housing on top of the sites already included in the local plan of:
St Nicholas at wade – 108 homes
Monkton 472 homes
Minster 798 homes
Birchington 162 homes
Westgate 115 homes
Margate 1,182 homes
Westwood 22 homes
Cliffsend 413 homes
Ramsgate 993 homes
Broadstairs 1,449 homes
St Peter’s 209 homes
RSP – an alternative to airport land homes
However a report commissioned by RSP from planning consultancy RPS Group says there is sufficient deliverable housing land capacity in Thanet District to deliver the council’s housing need between the period 2011-2031 without having to redevelop Manston airport for housing, including sufficient flexibility should the housing need numbers increase as part of the Local Plan Examination process.
The report looks at sites that have been offered by developers but are not currently part of the Local Plan.
The RSP suggestion is for additional homes at:
Land to the south of Monkton Street 60
Land at Manston Court Road/Haine Road 225
Land at Summer Road 6
Land at Tothill Street, Minster and The Length at St Nicholas at Wade 275
North of Millenium Way, Bradstairs 223
Shottendane Farm, Margate (comparably to two allocations of 250 homes)
South west of Sarre Business Park 15
Manor Road/Canterbury Riad St Nicholas-at-Wade (two sites) 61
Manston Park bungalows 20
Lanthorne Court, Broadstairs 56
Between Manston Road, Preston Road and the solar farm 180
Land off Pudding Lane, Birchington 573
West of Minnis Road 109
Extra land at Manston Court Road/Haine Road 225
Suggested sites with no housing figure
Mount Pleasant, Minster
Walters Hill Farm, Monkton
Chantry Park, Sarre
Sarre Court, Sarre
Dane Valley Enterprise Centre
Changes to the local plan were approved by Cabinet members at a meeting in October but overwhelmingly rejected by a consequent scrutiny panel meeting, raising speculation that it could be voted down at the full council meeting on January 18.
Thanet currently has 56 councillors. This is made up of 25 UKIP; 21 Conservative; 6 Labour; 2 Independent Group and 2 Independent councillors.
For a motion to be carried either way it will need at least 29 votes, meaning members of more than one political party will have to vote the same way, unless a sufficient number of councillors abstain from the vote altogether.
However, the draft plan documents also state that if the DCO were granted it would override any Local Plan land allocations – meaning the homes for Manston airport would become defunct at that point.
If it is approved there will then be a 6-week publication period between January 25 and March 8, 2018, when public comments can be made followed by submission to Planning Inspectorate in March 2018 and examination in June 2018.
Draft Local Plan – Sites already included in the local plan pre-revision
Manston Green 700
Broadstairs and St Peter’s 304