Extra houses plan for villages, Margate and Westwood in council bid to retain aviation-use only at Manston

Manston airport site

Thanet council Cabinet members are expected to approve the adoption of a new Thanet Draft Local Plan which will see 2,500 extra homes allocated to the villages, Margate and Westwood  so aviation use can be retained at the Manston airport site.

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.

Councillors voted the plan down

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. A fresh call for housing sites was made following the vote.

Thanet District Council is now in ‘intervention’ with the Government closely monitoring progress.  If Thanet District Council fails to publish a new plan, there is a risk of further direct intervention.

Council leader Bob Bayford asked officers to provide two options for consideration by Cabinet. The first is the original plan, which was rejected in January 2018.

The second is an option which does not seek to change the existing ‘lawful’ aviation-only use of Manston and transfers the housing originally proposed for the site to other parts of the district.

However campaigners say they are not happy with the wording of option 2 which actually strikes out aviation only policies SP05 and EC4 and replaces them with ‘text’ that “that recognises the existing use of the airport and acknowledges the current Development Consent Order (DCO) process for the site.”

Members of Save Manston Airport association say the text will carry little, if any, weight in planning law and suggest a third option based on a decision made in Crawley which would mean the Manston airport houses do not need to be reallocated.

In Crawley’s case it was agreed as long as there is not a definite decision to build a second runway at Gatwick, the houses that might be built on there do not have to be built elsewhere, because if there is a decision not to build a second runway, they would then be built on that land.

Campaigners say the equivalent for Manston is that until such a time as the DCO is finally decided one way or another, the 2,500 houses originally proposed for the site can be safely left in limbo – as long as policies SP05 and EC4  are maintained.

Under the council options the homes would be allocated at:

Birchington (600 homes)

Westgate on Sea (1000 homes)

Westwood (500 homes)

Hartsdown, Margate (300 homes)

Tothill Street, Minster (100 homes).

This is in addition to the housing sites previously proposed in these areas. Having reviewed all available sites, the council says these are considered the most appropriate in terms of sustainability, transport and, local and national planning strategies.

Cllr Bayford said: “The priority has been to put before Cabinet a Local Plan which recognises the lawful use of Manston as an airport and which also provides an opportunity for the Development Consent Order (DCO) application to proceed.”

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 hope to bring aviation back to the Manston site. However, their submission of a DCO, made in April, was withdrawn in May in light of issues raised by the Planning Inspectorate. It is yet to be resubmitted.

The local plan report adds: “In the event that a DCO (Deveopment Consent Order) is not accepted or granted, or does not proceed, the council will need to consider the best use for this site (including housing), in the next Local Plan review.”

A planning application for housing, business and leisure at the Manston site has already been lodged by landowners Stone Hill Park.

The recommendations from Cabinet on Monday 2 July will go to the Executive, Policy & Community Safety Scrutiny Panel for further consideration before going to full council on Thursday 19 July for a final decision.

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. So our towns and villages are to be sacrificed in the interests of foreign investors attempting a land-grab,inexplicably championed by Thanet’s MPs. Disgraceful.

    • You really must realise that if this country didn’t let in so many foreigners then we wouldn’t need all these new houses. We already are warned about water shortages but what about gas and electric supplies and waste disposal services?

      • Sure… sure… it is all the “foreigners” who are drinking our water!

        Perhaps we should not ever have any “water shortages” by better management and investment in in proper resources, just as we should manage our aviation assets like Manston instead of just talking about it.

  2. I understood that the LP had to be evidence based.
    All the evidence points to aviation not working at Manston. There is no evidence to suggest otherwise.
    So on what grounds is this proposal for the LP based?

  3. As PINS is unlikely to accept RSP’s application, the likelihood is that SHP’s plans will at some point be carried through.

    The councillors who voted down the Local Plan should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves and so should Gale and Mackinlay- who don’t seem to give a damn about the welfare of their constituents.

  4. So, do the people of Birchington or Minster, for example, who might object to so many houses being built in their areas, actually KNOW that they are only being lumbered with all these houses because Manston is being kept for some future, imaginary, aviation scheme ? And that some reports have indicated that certain local Tory MPs have already got their own airline companies waiting just in case they can make a killing? Fairly normal behaviour for Tory MPs, of course, but why do people in Birchington and Minster still vote for them? Words like “turkeys” and “Christmas” come to mind.

  5. Gale and Mackinlay are only in it for their own benefit and their business partners. They don’t give a fig about you or me, and they don’t care about the SMA groups or the local Councillors for that matter. Most people have become astute and aware of what is happening at Manston over the course of this saga, unfortunately though there are still some who have been brainwashed into thinking this is still going to be accepted despite all the factual information telling us it won’t ever work. There is more to Fraudemann, Gale and Mackinlay in just reviving an airport there after a CPO if it were accepted, they would then have the building land to do as they please. It will only become even more valuable as all other building plots are used up and we have to find the room to build more homes whether we like it or not! The Councillors need to wake up to the facts sooner or later and cancel the aviation only Local Plans madness blighting Thanet.

    • All attempts to run a smaller flight limited airport at Manston have failed miserably. The only way for an airport to succeed here is to make it bigger bringing in night flights with more aircraft and the concomitant day and night noise from road and air movements.
      Thanet council should know that attempts by some participating developers in earlier development opportunities in Thanet, now wanting to create a bigger Manston airport, have come to nothing. They have never been succeeded in raising the necessary cash to fund their ambitious schemes. The same will happen again.

  6. Manston was supposed to be a windfall for housebuilding, no need to even build on Manston other areas which could be built on and no need for extra housing. Figures going up and up each year. No grip on reality. The reality is they won’t all be built but the threat of them being built is nevertheless still threatening. And looking to build on grade 1 agricultural land is complete ignorance about the future requirements after brexit. Complete ignorance! Land owners selling off land for that great payoff. Poor substandard housing erected in 48 hours with walls you can hear someone flushing the chain through. No care, thought or planning. Just a quick build pushed through planning and money through the bank. Where’s the social value? Those house will be delapilated in years to come. That’s what developers think of Thanet the cash cow. Any decisions made now will have an impact later. A challenge needs to be made to those fictitious figures on housing numbers, the ever increasing fabricated numbers.

  7. Funny how chewing lumps out of those of us who support the return of aviation to Manston seems to satisfy those that haven’t lifted a finger to fight against the ridiculous housing numbers fostered upon this already overcrowded isle.
    Where was your protests when the figures jumped from 12,000 to 15,000 and now 17,000 plus?
    Meekly protesting that its “the government says so” cuts no parsnips as many of you are happy to leap up and protest loudly against other Government actions (NHS, Brexit etc) to change things.
    Cutting your nose off to spite your face is doomed, the wake up call will come when the next local plan has to be drafted in 13 years time.
    Maybe that will raise some of you out of your apathy…I doubt it.

  8. When is somebody going to have the balls to stand up and say “NO” to more housing being built on greenfield sites ?

    There are lots of properties standing empty in Thanet (and elsewhere I am sure) – therefore we do not have a housing shortage !

    Thanet is a relatively small geographic area and we don’t have the space to build 1,000 new homes each and every year for the next decade.

    We are in a vicious circle of more people wanting to come into the area and so we build more houses and encourage more people to come . . .

    Thanet is full. The doctors’ surgeries are full. The dental practises are full. The hospital is full. The schools are full. When is somebody going to wake up to the facts ? Even if we build new surgeries, hospitals and schools we don’t have the doctors, nurses and teachers to staff them !

    Whatever the views on the viability of Manston Airport, why would we want to build thousands of houses on all that green and pleasant open space ?

    • Well said! Manston is an airport and should remain so. PINS will decide if it can be “rescued” from greedy developers.
      And unlike some who think that once RiverOak SP own it they’ll build houses, the NSIP and DCO ensures that their Aviation plans are carried out. You can’t apply for a DCO for planes, then swap it for houses as soon as it’s granted. So, to those who support Manston Airport, just hang on in there. Manston Airport is coming back! We should hear something soon, once the DCO has been resubmitted.
      And write to your councillors to insist Policies SP05 and EC4 are reinstated, to give the airfield at least some protection whilst the DCO is going through!

  9. Why does TDC want to leave the ex-airport site empty (and unusable by the public) when its owners have a good mixed-use plan for it and all research indicates very strongly that a commercial airport there would be a failure?

    Not wanting an airport near Ramsgate does not mean that I (like other local residents) want or approve of thousands of new houses and flats in Thanet. But I assume that projections of local population growth have been made- not that the figure have been plucked out of thin air.

    Perhaps those who did want an airport to return should have spent their time on arguing the case against such a large housing quota instead. The local councils would surely have listened to such a large percentage of Thanet’s population and put pressure on Gale and Mackinlay.

    The many empty houses in Thanet will not be bought by local councils, except for, perhaps a few. If you want more social housing, don’t vote Tory.

  10. I fear that some people are in denial about the need for more housing in this country. There is no doubt that there wouldn’t be a shortage if all the empty houses around the country became magically transformed into homes again. In fact, it is a disgrace that so many houses are deliberately left empty by the owners so that they can sit on a nest-egg without the hassle of renting them out.It is also a disgrace that ,right now, in central London,luxury apartments are being built, fully furnished throughout, so that they can be sold to investors (yes, even the dreaded “foreign” investors, as if the English variety was any better) and then left completely empty for years because the booming London housing market guarantees a hefty return when eventually sold (to another investor). But , to stop these abuses, we would need a government prepared to take action to ensure empty houses are brought back as real homes or be prepared to compulsarily purchase them. No wonder so many people flee London for the Kent coast, either as commuters or retirees, given the ever-rising costs of a London home.
    But will we get a government prepared to control the housing market? Unfortunately, if enough voters are persuaded that it’s all the fault of the “immigrants” then they will vote Conservative or semi-detached Conservative (UKIP) and then we won’t have a government prepared to take the necessary steps. And we will find ourselves having these same old discussions ten years from now.

  11. What everyone seems to be missing is you are only delaying the building in the surrounding villages. Even if manston gets 4,000 houses built on another 13,000 still need to be built elsewhere by 2030 in Thanet. So sit here complain about Manston all you want it’s not going to get you anywhere.

  12. In Hersden village near Canterbury, house builders Redrow, have permission to build a new estate. However instead of going ahead and building the houses they have put the land up for Auction. This just goes to show that builders and developers are not interested in building the houses when they can make more money doing NOTHING and just sell the land on to another developer. Which in turn makes new homes even more expensive.

  13. I’m all for manston airport,but for flights to go to and from there in the day only,Ryan air said this is possible,it will be great for the people living in Kent ,it will surely take pressure off the other bigger airports like Gatwick,plus less traffick on the roads,but please do not build more houses on our wonderful garden of England .yes it will great to have a airport on our doorstep

  14. This comment is with regard to the previous comments about the empty properties in Thanet. When I first moved here some years ago, I was astonished to see so many potential homes languishing and in serious disrepair. I asked my son, who is a builder, why people don’t do up the empty homes. He told me it is far more difficult to repair a home than to build it from scratch and the government offers grants to new home-builders, but nothing for restorers. Surely this policy needs changing?

  15. For those who want anything other than manston you know what you are inviting don’t you more crime and fear of having something succed.this so called online paper needs to wake up and start being more open minded to manston

    • More crime!!? From all the well-paid but knackered London commuters who would buy a lot of the new houses on the Manston site!?
      I have noticed these unsubtle references before. People who support the airport scheme tend to be Tory/UKIP voters who , naturally, don’t like a lot of other human beings , especially ones not like them. So, to smear the idea of building more houses on the empty Manston site, they talk about “foreigners” and “more crime” and “having to pay for them” and other hints that there will be undesirable “other people” coming to live locally.
      In reality, unless we are forceful in making sure there are a lot of affordable or social houses built, most of the new houses will be expensive “executive-style” homes. Which will be bought by the better-off , who tend, ironically, to be Tory or UKIP voters. In a few years, they may even join the NIMBY brigade and insist that no-one else is allowed to move to Thanet. And if they worry that they can’t deceive their fellow citizens, they will, in their turn, start spreading sinister rumours about “immigrants” moving in! What a world of hatred and fear.

    • By “manston” do you mean “an airport at Manston”?

      This particular online paper needs to carry on publishing a range of its readers’ opinions, and I expect it will.

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