Thanet Draft Local Plan: Councillors expected to be presented with ‘Manston’ options

Manston airport site

Three options are believed to be due to be put forward to councillors when they take a new vote on Thanet’s draft local plan next month.

The draft plan – which is a 20 year blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure on the isle – was voted down in January by Conservative and ‘rebel’ UKIP councillors  with 35 against and 20 in favour.

The vote, which led to the collapse of the UKIP administration, was prompted by a change of status for Manston from aviation-only to a mixed-use designation to include 2,500 homes. An amendment to defer for two years the mixed-use designation pending the resolution of the DCO process was not sufficient to persuade the majority of councillors.

There were also issues over housing numbers with a strong campaign to protect sites mounted by the Birchington Action Group Against TDC Local Plan members.

The failure to vote through the plan led to the government stepping in to speed up the process.


Now a new vote is to take place in July and it is understood that councillors will be presented with the option of approving the plan as presented in January or making amendments to the Manston airport site.

The Isle of Thanet News understands that one option will be to defer mixed use proposals for two years following the adoption of the local plan. If a Development Consent Order (DCO) or Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for aviation use is granted within those two years the housing allocations for the site will be scrapped.

Another, similar, option is thought to be to amend the wording of the plan to recognise the lawful use of the site as an airport, with no development allocation, for a two year period or until the decision is made on the DCO if that comes before the end of the two years. This would mean additional housing sites for Westwood, Birchington and Westgate plus smaller sites across the district to be earmarked for development at the end of the local plan period in 2031.

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Strategic Partners, who want to bring aviation back to the Manston site, made a DCO submission in April but this was withdrawn ;ast month. The firm says it aims to resubmit the application.


Thanet is in an ‘intervention’ stage from central government following the failure to agree the local plan to go forward to the next stag when councillors took the vote in January.

Then-Housing Secretary Sajid Javid wrote to 15 local authorities in England in March to inform them of decisions on intervention.

Thanet was one of three authorities where the government confirmed it could take over the entire process.

TDC initially said a new plan could take between 8-10 months with the intention to publish a pre-submission draft plan by December 2018  and submission for examination until April 2019.

But council leader Bob Bayford, who was voted in to the council top spot following the resignation of UKIP leader Chris Wells at the end of February, had pledged to “progress and deliver the local plan.”

New vote

Thanet council Cabinet members will meet to discuss the draft plan on July 2. The issue will go to the scrutiny panel on July 11, back to Cabinet on July 19 before a final decision from full council on July 26.

Documents for those meetings have not yet been published.

The draft plan

Thanet’s Draft Local Plan –which runs until 2031 –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 last year on revisions to the plan included axing the aviation-use only designation at Manston airport and putting forward new isle sites including Manston Court Road and Haine Road.

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

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

The figure could 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.


  1. No way is 2 years enough to decide what’s going to happen at Manston Airport. There is a DCO pending that could take > 2 years to be accepted (but hopefully less). There is also Brexit looming. So, until more is known about both those things, I suggest a minimum of 5 years waiting on a decision about Manston is put on the new Local Plan.

    • Hopefully, RSP will now give up and go ex-airport hunting elsewhere. Hopefully, if they do manage to submit their plan again, PINS will refuse it.

      Hopefully, the farcical local shenanigans will stop soon and the council will vote for a sensible local plan.

  2. The Local Plan has to be evidence based.
    All the evidence says aviation at Manston won’t work; there is no evidence to the contrary.
    Meanwhile, houses that could be built on the ex-airfield will be built on greenfield sites instead.
    Minster, Acol, Birchington …

  3. Thanet is already blighted by this saga. It needs to be sorted one way or the other ASAP without further delays.
    There is no DCO pending at this moment in time as RSP withdrew it after being told by PINS it would not be accepted in it’s present form due to a number of important omissions amongst other information lacking, including who the investors are and where the money is to take it on.

  4. This medea site has and allways will be against manston reopening and infact come clean and say so to all yes I’m standing up for manston and against a complete ignorant media outlet.

    • What on earth are you talking about? This site makes sure reports are balanced so there is no favour for either scheme at Manston

  5. The correct approach should be NO to a Noisy Poluting Airport and NO to the massive damage all these extra houses are going to cause to Minster; Birchington etc etc. How many houses do we need to meet our local Thanet demand, How many houses are there needed for nurses, fireman and policemen to meet the now and future requirement – is that 20,000 – I think NOT. I suggest Roger Gale and other local politicians plus of course thos “also rans” in TDC start to thinking about us as people and push back against government demands and protect this area. But sadly it wont happen because ALL politicians both locally and in government are expedient short term thinkers – start taking tips from other EU countries that do things considerable better than UK !!!

  6. Now that Councillor Alan Howes is dead, Birchington needs a representative at this important vote which affects them more than most other areas of Thanet. The vote should be postponed until he is replaced or how can it be viewed as a democratic decision? You cannot impose a massive planning decision (over 1000 houses and new road infrastructure) on Birchington without all the wards being represented.

  7. How can they pass a vote without replacing Alan Howes? There would be no one to represent the views of the people in his ward in Birchington which has been allocated a housing estate of over 1000 houses and road infrastructure changes. The people of Birchington need to be democratically represented at this vote or it could be legally challenged. This vote needs to be postponed until his replacement is reelected.

  8. SHP should be permitted to develop the site for mixed use and the land predators should not be permitted to distress due process.

  9. The people calling for delays to this decision are living in a fantasy world. Thanet’s new local plan has been delayed time and time again. It is already five years overdue and the Secretary of State has already stepped in to force the council to pass a new plan. There is no more time and the plan has to be based on the available evidence. Sadly, for petrol-heads everywhere there is no shred of evidence that aviation at Manston is viable and there is no evidence that RSP will be able to submit a viable DCO. In fact, there were so many things wrong with their first attempt that I’d be surprised if it came back at all. As for the local plan the councillors now have a simple choice; vote for redevelopment or face the prospect of seeing the plan challenged through the courts with all of the cost implications that would have for local taxpayers. Given their foolish decision to delay publication of the plan in the first place, it’s hard to see them making the right decision second time around; far too many councillors who care about nothing other than airport.

  10. Whatever the “Manston options”, aviation isn’t one of them.
    Councillors should read the half-a-dozen reports prroduced in recent years, all of which say that Manston is a dead duck as far as aviation is concerned.
    It would be absolutely absurd for Councillors to vote for any Local Plan that mentioned Manston and Aviation.

  11. Getting rid of our national assets seems to be a British trait. A runway like Manston is a NATIONAL ASSET. It is there, ready to be used at any time by any size aircraft. There is nothing like it in Kent and if it goes, we might bitterly regret it, particularly with the uncertainty of Brexit.

    Goods to and from the continent could still be managed in Kent from Manston, even if the sea ports were blocked or totally saturated. In the case of crisis, it could be used, once again as a military base. If heathrow’s third runway is delayed (huge delays are also a British trait), then, once again, we might bitterly regret not having that runway at Manston.

    … or …

    we can just totally shut ourselves out of the rest of the world and build our little houses everywhere for the jobess to live in and watch companies like Airbus move out of our inward-looking asset-selling country.

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