RSP Manston site consultations on heels of voting down of the draft Thanet Local Plan

RSP plans for Manston airport

Two consultation events by RiverOak Strategic Partners (RiverOak) take place today and tomorrow (January 23-24) on their plans to revive Manston airport as an air freight hub.

RSP  is proposing to reopen Manston airport as an air freight hub with associated business aviation and passenger services.

The company had planned to submit an application for a Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate to allow a compulsory purchase of the site by the end of last year but that is now delayed until after the consultation. It bought out the DCO rights from the original proposing company RiverOak corporation in December 2016.

The consultations come on the heels of last week’s vote at Thanet council to reject publication of the isle’s draft Local Plan.

The vote

Councillors voted the plan down

Twelve UKIP councillors were among the 35 that voted against publishing the plan, which is a blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure up until 2031. The plan sets out how much development is needed to support the future population and economy. 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

But the change of status for Manston was the sticking point for members of the administration’s own party as well as for the Conservatives and three Independents, causing it to be voted down.

The move means the plan is unlikely to reach the March 31 deadline for submission to the Planning Inspectorate and a conversation with the Government’s Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (formerly the Department for Communities and Local Government) will need to take place. The Ministry may well intervene on the plan.


RiverOak has welcomed the decision not to re-designate the airport for mixed use, including housing, saying it allows the consultation to focus on the detail of RiverOak’s proposals without underlying uncertainty about the use of the airport site.

George Yerrall, a director of RiverOak said: “Last week’s decision by the elected members of Thanet is in line with the Inspector’s appeal decision, in July 2017, which endorsed the strength and weight of the EC4 zoning (aviation use) for Manston and confirmed that it accorded with national planning policy and the aviation policy framework – irrespective of whether the airport was open or closed at the present time. At that time the rezoning policy had ‘little weight’, as a result of last week’s decision it now has no weight.

“If our Development Consent Order is granted, RiverOak remains committed to collaborating fully with Thanet District Council to deliver a thriving, vibrant airport which supports the creation of thousands of local jobs.

“We would also be pleased to work closely with their planning team to contribute to a Local Plan which supports these outcomes, maximises the growth potential of the Isle and still delivers the housing requirements placed upon Thanet by government.”

The RSP consultation events are at the Comfort Inn, Victoria Parade, Ramsgate, from noon to 8pm today ( Tuesday 23 January) and The King’s Hall, Beacon Hill, Herne Bay, from noon to 8pm on Wednesday 24 January.

The deadline for responses is 11.59pm on Friday 16 February. Responses to the consultation can be made online, by email, by post or at the consultation events and copies of all consultation documents, together with full details of how to respond, are available at

Stone Hill Park

SHP has now submitted updated plans – this image is from the October submission

Landowners Stone Hill Park have submitted proposals for housing, business, heritage and leisure space at the Manston site.

Last November SHP also held consultation events on revisions to its plan which included:

  • Keeping a 1,199 metre section of the main runway as a working heritage airport with Manston’s two museums relocating to a new Spitfire Quarter, alongside new heritage aviation attractions.
  • A new settlement with up to 4,000 new homes from starter homes to retirement built over 20 years with all the community facilities to support them including shops and schools.
  • A new hi-tech manufacturing business park, part of a number of employment opportunities that aim to create thousands of jobs, a hotel and a new country  with an area available for events, farmers markets and other community activities.
  • A state-of-the-art sports and leisure village, that will deliver Kent’s first 50m Olympic sized pool, a surf lake and other sports facilities.

The firm has not issued a statement on how the plans will be affected by the voting down of the Local Plan, which means the site has not been redesignated for mixed use and continues to have an aviation-only policy attached to its use.

However, it is understood their revised plans as set out last November are still going to be submitted to Thanet council.