Development Consent Order for Manston airport site sent to Planning Inspectorate

DCO documents

The firm aiming to bring aviation back to Manston airport has today (April 9) despatched its Development Consent Order (DCO) submission for the site.

A  DCO is the means of obtaining permission for developments categorised as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP). This includes energy, transport, water and waste projects.

Riveroak Strategic Partners (RSP) has sent 63 documents, containing almost 11,000 pages of proposals, to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol.

The proposals are for a £300m project to create an air freight hub with passenger services and business aviation.

RSP has 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.

The DCO application includes an Environmental Statement, a four-volume Economic Assessment, plans and drawings of the proposals and a report on the one non-statutory and two statutory consultation exercises, undertaken across 2016, 2017 and 2018, to which over 4200 responses were received.

The despatch marks the start of the ‘Acceptance’ stage of the DCO process. There will now follow a period of up to 28 days for the Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State, to decide whether or not the application meets the standards required to be accepted for examination.

The Manston proposal is the first airport DCO application to have been made under the Planning Act 2008.

George Yerrall, Director of RiverOak Strategic Partners, said: “This is a hugely important moment for us, but I also recognise that it is a significant moment for many people across Thanet and East Kent too. On behalf of all of the directors of RSP I would like to thank the entire team who have worked incredibly hard, over several years, to get us to this point – and also extend my thanks and appreciation to all those in the community that have supported us on this journey.

“We must now wait for the Inspectorate’s decision as to whether we proceed to the examination stage of the DCO process. We have certainly endeavoured to do everything we can to deliver a grounded, detailed and evidence-based application that will meet PINS’ requirements, and I therefore hope and expect that today will mark the start of the next phase of our commitment to reopening Manston airport and, in doing so, help to deliver the employment and prosperity for East Kent that it so richly deserves.”

Airport campaigners

A spokesman for campaign group Save Manston Airport association said:”Save Manston Airport association are pleased that RSP’s application has moved to the second phase of the process. We don’t anticipate any further information until the Planning Inspectorate announce their decision, which we hope will be to accept the application for examination. Consequently, we do not expect to be making any further statements until the decision is announced.

“There is still a long way to go in this process but most stages from now on have a legally defined maximum duration.

“We know that once the application has cleared this hurdle a decision on whether to grant a DCO is expected  in 2019.”

Sir Roger Gale 

North Thanet’s MP Sir Roger Gale, added: “This is a pivotal moment in the future for aviation at Manston airport and, I believe, a pivotal moment for the post- Brexit future of UK Limited

“I cannot pretend that I have read all 10,500 pages of the submission but I know enough to say with confidence that this collection of documents gives the lie to those who have said that RiverOak does not have the resources, the determination and the attention to detail necessary to see this project through.

“I trust that the Planning Inspectorate will accept the application for full public examination so that we can now move forward to the Development Consent Order necessary to get the airport up and running again as soon as possible.”

A verdict on the DCO is expected by April next year and, if granted, the airport is scheduled to open in the Summer of 2021.

Stone Hill Park – homes, leisure and business

Plans before the latest amendments

However, the site belongs to Stone Hill Park which proposes to build 3,700 homes, schools, nurseries, GP surgery, community hall, children’s playgrounds and sports facilities;46,000 sq metres of employment floorspace; a heritage airport  reusing the western part of the runway, a sports village and a country park.

The development plans, with a lower housing figure of 2,500, had been earmarked in Thanet’s Draft Local Plan as a contribution towards a housing target of 17,140 new isle homes by 2031.

But the publication stage of the plan was voted down on January 18 and last month this resulted in the announcement of possible central government intervention.

The Government’s Chief Planner and a team of experts will be sent to the isle to assess whether the plan needs taking out of the hands of Thanet council.

Chief Planner, Steve Quartermain CBE and the team will report back to the Secretary of State who will then take a final decision on formal intervention later this year.

In addition, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will conduct formal discussions with Kent County Council and neighbouring east Kent authorities to see if they could take over plan production on the Secretary of State’s behalf.

SHP continue with plans

SHP say the failure to progress the local plan does not affect the planning submission.

Trevor Cartner, Director of Stone Hill Park Ltd, said: “We are pleased that RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) has finally submitted their Development Consent Order (DCO) application, which will now be considered by the Planning Inspectorate. This will deal with the issue once and for all.

“Stone Hill Park Ltd (SHPL) will contest the DCO application and any subsequent hearing rigorously. We are absolutely convinced that we will win, as the DCO proposition being advanced by RSP is built on a foundation of sand.

 “The quicker the DCO process is dealt with, the quicker Stone Hill Park will help to kickstart the economy of Thanet as a whole.

“We will submit our revised outline planning application to Thanet District Council by the end of May.”

The proposals have been backed by campaign groups such as No Night Flights and the Kent branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which said the environmental and social impacts of noise and air pollution of an airport outweigh the claimed economic benefits.

CPRE Kent said mixed commercial and residential use would offer “more realistic employment opportunities and provide for the prospect of safeguarding the best and most versatile agricultural land which would otherwise be required to meet Thanet’s objectively assessed housing need.”


  1. Excellent news ..Long awaited …..
    The clock is now officially running ….
    All best wishes to RiverOak Strategic Partners forbthevhuge efforts taken to assemble all those documents fro the DCO ,…..

  2. As a resident of Ramsgate I very much hope that the planning inspectorate will reject this application. If permission were granted (unlikely as it is), a cargo hub would impose on Ramsgate, Herne Bay and other places under the flight-path an intolerable amount of noise and pollution by day and night.

    Why do the two Thanet MPs seem so keen on inflicting such a thing upon their constituents? Don’t they care about our physical and mental health?

    I cannot understand why there has been any local support at all for this idea.

  3. It’s excellent news that SHP are continuing with their plans for the development of Manston and are not phased by the unrelenting diatribe issuing from the mouths of certain local MPs. Yes a benine mixed development, for most thinking people, is the way forward avoiding the gross pollution and noise associated with such a massive cargo hub. Manston has always been a small airport with just a few flights a week so to move from that to what is proposed is absolute madness – a mini Gatwick !! It’s time stand up and petition the government to ensure that background political manneuvering does not destroy further our way of life in Thanet.

  4. I don’t understand what SHP would hope to achieve by submitting a new planning application. Their old application was never considered or decided. It just seems to have faded away. The council won’t consider a new application until the issue of the DCO has been decided. Maybe the purpose of submitting a new application will be to up the compensation package as this will be based on what the legal owners would, otherwise, have done with the land.

  5. Most of Thanet want a airport planes are a lot quieter now y would want all them houses which won’t go to people of Thanet it will be for London like all outher houses down here the ****that own the airport at moment are only in it for money Thanet don’t need more houses 100sand 100s empty shops/warehouses empty/ nhs overcrowded /doctor surgeries overcrowded /roads over crowded / Thanet can’t take any more yet u mad people who rejecting /well trying to reject it ???????????? u lose the airport was there before any of u and it here to stay move on people ????

      • I’m afraid that many of the supporters of aviation at Manston suffer from the misunderstanding that an airport = no houses. This is not so. We get an airport *and* houses. Or we could just have the houses (along with the doctor’s surgeries, schools and so on the SHP’s plans will embrace).
        I know what my choice would be.

  6. We need jobs for people in thanet , the airport will bring these , lets hope it all goes ahead and we have our airport back.

  7. RiverOak’s long, painstaking process of putting together the present Application for development consent to the Planning Inspectorate has finally reached fruition.

    The narratives of those who have opposed the Application have in some cases changed over time. For some other opponents the arguments remain undeflected by further thought or by the documentation that RiverOak and their teams of expert Consultants have brought together in a well-coordinated endeavour.

    Personally, I have been impressed by those of RiverOak’s team whom I have met, and I, together with my colleagues on the Committee of the Save Manston Airport association, feel that our own labours in support of the airport’s re-opening and regeneration, have been well-justified. We know that most Thanet businesses and residents feel the same. A small, unrepresentative minority of residents feel differently, and they will no doubt press their case upon the Planning Inspectorate, but anyone who has looked in detail at how other DCO projects for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects will realise that the position of the critics is highly unlikely to succeed.

    At this point the Stone Hill Park proposal is on life-support. Once the DCO Application is is ‘Accepted for Examination’ (at some point during this month or early in May), the likelihood of any possible future for Stone Hill Park at Manston are statistically as low as 4%. The Directors of SHP would do well to reconsider whether the better course of action would be to take their plans for Manston away and put them elsewhere.

    • If, as you boast, you stand for the vast majority, can you explain why you did so abysmally when you stood for the council, achieving just 5% of the vote? The winning candidate, with more than seven times your vote, was vehemently anti cargo hub. Your “statistical likelihood” for SHP is pure piffle.

    • Why can’t RSP take their plans away, when there are other disused airfields in England in far more central position than Manston?

      Why should the legal owners of the site have to reconsider? I should think their current plans for a mixed-use development are -in the government’s eyes- just the ticket.

      RSP’s consultations were a shambles. Their finances are shrouded in secrecy, their principals are lacking in manners to say the least, their research and publicity have been sketchy and partial.

    • Was Dr Pritchard also “impressed” by the way in which Louise Congdon of York Aviation systematically shredded RSP’s case at a presentation to KCC?

  8. Brilliant news. More jobs and work for the local population. Bring it on and Mr cartner and musgrove and the real owner ms gliag, give up now. Your land banking is not wanted here.

  9. The small amount of residents who favour the RSP plans are just that, along with the rent-a-mob SMA group who protested at each Council meeting for some desperate attention by the media (the those who shout the loudest will win attitude). They still continue to scaremonger to anyone who doesn’t agree with them and most of them don’t even live in Thanet for pity’s sake. They wouldn’t have to worry about anything would they? but they would be happy to inflict it all on us though! And what nonsense saying stuff like we will just get London’s unwanted in the houses built. The fact is there has to be homes built here like it or not, we have overcrowding in many residences and not enough homes for our own residents! The council has no vacant homes to house our people and thousands on the waiting list.
    But the real truth of the matter is most of us have seen through their game, astonishingly led by our two local MP’s who have their own personal agenda and thus working against their own constituents best interests.
    The majority of Thanet residents would be glad to see the back of all this and would be happy that SHP have produced credible plans for a clean and sensible environmental option which includes a mixture of jobs and homes close-by. I know which option I would go with, now lets see what happens.

    We hope the DCO by RSP fails so that we don’t end up with a noisy, dirty, stinking, hazardous environment for our kids to inherit, or most probably a once again failed airport with no option of anything else there.

  10. I have lived in Ramsgate since 1985, when Manston was a Royal Airforce base. Since they left, I don’t think any company has managed more than a couple of years before they have had to pull out due to lack of use. I haven’t read the 11,000 pages but does it say anywhere that it can be assured of enough use to keep going. Will use include night flights? I don’t object to them, I chose to buy a house near a working airport but many people have moved here since with no operational flights in day time let alone in the night. I think we saw in the last lot of elections, local and national, that promises were made and a lot of emotional arguements were given. Not much practical honesty or real thought for the future of the people of Thanet.

  11. We keep hearing the loud minority, who are attempting to foist this cargo-hub on Thanet, justifying their position by telling everyone that it will create jobs. But the airport was open for 15 years between 1999 and 2014 and it created very few jobs. The current owners of the site have done an excellent job of regenerating the old Pfizer site creating far more jobs than the airport ever did. After 20 years, the argument that the airport will create jobs is wearing a bit thin. The cargo hub is not the best option.

  12. Of course there will still be houses built everyone knows that but they don’t need to be on our airport. Bring jobs back to Thanet. If people think that SHP are going to fulfil their empty promises maybe they need to look at previous projects they have been involved in. It seems that every time an article is written the number of houses planned has changed.
    I am sure I will be shouted down and that is fine, but these are my views and if they are not yours that is fine too

  13. I feel Manston Airport was closed not because it was not worth investment it was closed by asset strippers who were looking to make a fast buck by gaining planning permission to build houses then holding on to the land as land bank before selling the land off to the highest bidder. I am delighted that they have been frustrated in that aim. The vast majority of locals would love to see the airport open again and have the investment to benefit the whole East Kent region not just a few greedy chancers.

    • The owners of the former airport site have not yet been frustrated in their aims.

      And if the legal owners of the land are “a few greedy chancers”, then what are we to call RSP, whose finances are stashed away in an offshore tax haven, whose backers are anonymous, whose principals have no history of running a successful airport and who are desperate to deprive the legal owners of their land when they could buy a disused airfield somewhere else in England?

    • The airport closed because it was losing money. Vast amounts of money. No one who ran it as a commercial venture (including Tony Freudmann) ever made a profit. It lost £100,000,000 over its life time. That’s why it closed.
      The majority of people want an airport? Says who?
      The only formal consultation (carried out by TDC) revealed that the majority of people in Thanet did not want night flights.
      Greedy chancers? How would you describe an outfit with no office, no phone, no email, backed by anonymous people in the offshore tax haven of Belize, lead by a man who in addition to overseeing a serious of business failures also happens to be a struck-off solicitor?

  14. You don’t know what you’re talking about perhaps you should go back to school and learn about what’s going on in the world.

  15. The present ‘owners’ of Manston Airport have others hiding behind them who used to be in front until they realised the the public outcry over the airport closure, indeed even those in front have yet another spoke person in front of them .
    All smoke and mirrors.

    • The present owners of SHP are easy to determine. Look at Companies House. Just who is behind RSP is a mystery: their backers are in the off-shore tax haven of Belize.

  16. I have said from day 1
    So many people NOT wanting the airport to reopen,despite its past track record.
    Yet how many of you would be the first to openly admit you would fly from Manston,rather than travel to Heathrow or Gatwick??
    So many people spouting facts and figures about damage and noise from airplanes…. BUT more housing and overcrowding is far more acceptable is it???

    • The last person to run Manston Airport did exactly that, run it into the ground he then went off to a rival airport to another plum job. How long was that on the cards for I wonder.

      • The only reason that Manston failed was that insufficient people from Thanet/East Kent chose to fly from it.
        The catchment area isn’t big enough to sustain a commercial airport. It’s surrounded on 3 of 4 sides by sea, and on the accessible side you have to travel padt Luton, Stanstead, City, Heathrow and Gatwick airports before you get anywhere near Manston.

    • Overcrowding isn’t acceptable. Have a word with the councillors who voted down the local plan. That’s all the Tory cllrs and the Independent UKIP.

  17. The Tory councillors only voted down the local plan so that they could bring down UKIP. It was a silly political stunt which could yet have serious repercussions for the area. The kippers who voted down the plan don’t care about housing or overcrowding. The only thing they care about is the airport and they don’t care how much damage they do along the way.

    • Or maybe they voted down the local plan because they want the airport to be an airport and not an housing estate. UKIP had betrayed the voters over promising support for the Airport and Chris Wells holding private meetings that were considered to be too private even for members of his own party.

      • Maybe they voted down the local plan because they hoped that would bring them lots of votes!

        UKIP was foolish to promise something which they were not sure they could deliver. But before an election, politicians promise all sorts of things. The electorate needs to take such promises with a large pinch of salt.

        A local plan needs to be based on facts, and all the facts indicate that Manston is not a good place to run a commercial airport. Even if it were, the environmental impact on Ramsgate would be so devastating that it would (or should) be a good reason in itself for refusing RSP ‘s application for a DCO.

        I wonder if the councillors who voted down the local plan are happy now that they know the probable consequences.

  18. Chris Wells’ jaw must have dropped when he first sat behind the Leader’s desk and read the files about Manston. He did his best: he entered into a second round of CPO negotiations with the (then) ROIC; he had to pull the plug when ROIC was unable to show that it had the funds to see through the CPO. He commissioned a second round of Soft Market Testing, which profuced no credible results whatsoever. Mindful that the Local Plan has to be evidence lead, he commissioned an independent expert report (The Avia Report) on the viability of commercial aviation at Manston: it concluded, as has every other report, tha Manston is not suitable, and commercial aviation won’t work there.
    So, Chris Wells was in the pisition of having no credible partners, no expert opinion, and a need for housing.
    You work out the rest.

  19. I am about to exchange contracts on a house in central Ramsgate, but this has put everything on hold! After searching for nearly two years now, I was really looking forward to settling in the area, which offers so much in the way of positive appeal, but now….??? I am truly devastated and only hope that sense will prevail against the cargo hub. I am not an immigrant, not a refugee, and not moving from London.

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