Development Consent Order for Manston airport site to be resubmitted

Manston airport site

RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) is today (16 July) re-submitting its application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the Manston airport site.

The DCO seeks development consent and compulsory acquisition powers over the land. 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.

RSP’s plan for Manston includes an international cargo hub, as well as offering passenger flights. The land is owned by Stone Hill Park (SHP) which has submitted an application for homes, leisure and business at the site.

The DCO application was originally submitted to the government Planning Inspectorate (PINS) at the beginning of April. It was withdrawn in early May after PINS’ requested further information about parts of the application. These related to funding, to the categorisation of the project as being of national significance, and to aspects of the supporting environmental statements.

The Planning Inspectorate said its concerns included:

  • An absence of sufficient information within the application documents upon which to the Planning Inspectorate could base a decision about whether the Proposed Development constitutes a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) within the meaning in s23 of the Planning Act 2008.
  • Gaps in the ecological, archaeological and ground investigation survey data presented within the Environmental Statement (ES) accompanying the application, which create uncertainty in the assessment of likely significant effects.
  • Inconsistencies/ omissions in the noise and vibration assessment.
  • The adequacy of the Transport Assessment accompanying the ES.
  • The adequacy of the Funding Statement.

George Yerrall, a director of RiverOak Strategic Partners, said: “The original DCO application, which was submitted in early April, and which ran to 11,000 pages, was the culmination of 27 months of intensive work on the part of the RSP team and our professional consultants.

“This included three separate consultation exercises as well as a complex planning appeal. We were therefore naturally disappointed to be informed by PINS that, in their view, the application fell short in certain respects.

“Nevertheless, we have taken up all the points raised by PINS and, working with our full team, we have used the past nine weeks to provide full and comprehensive responses to those points. We have also taken the opportunity to clarify the situation in relation to the two museums.

“We are promising to safeguard their position, as before, but have now made it clear that any future development consent relating to either museum would be a matter for Thanet District Council, rather than PINS.

“The submission sent to PINS today incorporates all that additional work and we believe that the documentation as amended is sufficient to justify the DCO application being allowed to move to the next stage.”

Site owners

Enhanced plans from SHP

The site is owned by Stone Hill Park (SHP) which has submitted an enhanced application for homes, business and leisure to be developed at the airport site.

The documents, now published on the Thanet council website, outline plans for  46,000 sq m of advanced/hi-tech employment space which SHP say will provide up to 2,000 direct jobs with 9,000 further jobs created over the course of the project, including construction and jobs in the supply chain for the wider area.

Plans include a heritage airport with an operational runway; public parks an East Kent Sports Village with facilities including Kent’s first 50m Olympic sized swimming pool and a WaveGarden surf lake; schools, a  food store, cafes/restaurants, a 120-bed hotel and a health centre.

Trevor Cartner, Director, Stone Hill Park Ltd., said: “Two and a half years have passed since RiverOak in its original form and more recently a new company called RSP, announced their intention to advance a Development Consent Order for a cargo airport on the Manston site.

“Nine weeks have passed since the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) highlighted a number of serious flaws with the first DCO application, submitted in April, echoing concerns that we first raised with PINS last Autumn.

“RSP have now had sufficient time to put together a compelling, evidence-based argument for what they propose. We shall now wait to see what happens next, but it has always been our view that RSP’s plans are flawed and will not get out of the stocks.  If this re-submission results again in failure we hope RSP will accept the game is finally up.”

To access the plans visit, click through to the planning portal and enter reference OL/TH/18/0660

RSP proposals

The RSP proposals are for a 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 site and the Thanet Local Plan

The land at the Manston airport site also forms part of Thanet’s Draft Local Plan – a 20 year blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure on the isle

This month Thanet council Cabinet members voted to move forward with a new option on the plan which will see 2,500 homes allocated to the villages, Margate and Westwood instead of the Manston airport site – but also strikes out both the policies (SP05 and EC4) in place to protect aviation.

The draft plan 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 Development Consent Order submitted by Riveroak Strategic Partners was not sufficient to persuade the majority of councillors.


On July 2 the plan was brought back to the table with the option of approving the same draft previously rejected in January or going forward with an option aimed at retaining aviation at the site.

But the wording of option 2 caused concern amongst aviation campaigners and many councillors who are in favour of bringing the airport back into use.

The option states: “Draft Policy SP05 (protecting aviation-only use) would be deleted, and replaced with text that recognises the existing use of the airport and acknowledges the current Development Consent Order (DCO) process for the site.

“This also provides the opportunity for any other interested parties to pursue the operational use of the airport through agreement with the landowners or through becoming an indemnity partner as part of a potential CPO process with the council.

“The statement regarding existing use is not a policy statement; it is simply a recognition of the current planning status of the site. This also means that current Policy EC4 (and other airport-related policies) would not be continued or replaced with equivalent policies in the new Local Plan.”


At a council scrutiny meeting on July 11 two amendments were suggested:

That housing development being proposed in the Local Plan be phased to be implemented towards the end of the plan period;

That the draft Local Plan text be amended to indicate that if a DCO or CPO process has not been agreed within two years, that the status of the site be reviewed.

This will be discussed by Cabinet members on Thursday (July 19) before going to a full council vote on July 19. If the plan is voted through there will be a six week consultation before it is submitted for public examination.

Under option 2 the homes would be allocated to:

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.


  1. What a total farce! The sooner TDC get behind the LEGAL owners of the site and back sensitive development in line with the housing and economic needs of the district, the better. Many at TDC, including Cabinet members, councillors, and officers support SHP’s plans. Do the right thing TDC: back SHP and stop wasting already scarce CT funding that could be spent on services for everyone!

    • You sound just like former TDC Leader Chris Wells – and he’s been ousted for his opinions. No way did he have the residents’ interests at heart. Oh, and by the way, I was the first Ramsgate Resident on here, so you’ve stolen my name!

    • Houses WILL be built Bert, and the best place for them is on disused brownfield sites such as Manston.

      Well put Ramsgate Resident (the OP), Manston is dead, get over it.

  2. I look forward to the succesful submission of the DCO and future reopening of the Manston airport for both freight and passengers in the next year to 18 months. In the meantime I look to RSP to continue supporting East Kent businesses by utilising their abilities as they have been over the last three years.

  3. I am still waiting to see a report that indicates that a “new settlement” is environmentally, economically or socially a viable proposition. I have heard a lot of talking down of Manston Airport and seen unsubstantiated reports from the likes of Avia but nothing that supports an whole new “Settlement” at Manston. It still looks like TDC has not done it’s due diligence and examined the alternative they seem to support.

    • EVERYONE is waiting to see a report, study or even the opinion of an aviation professional that Manston is viable. Thus far, the reports, studies and opinions have been 100% negative about a 4th attempt to make a clearly non viable airport viable.

  4. I can only hope that the Planning Inspectorate rejects their plan.

    Ramsgate Resident is right: TDC should be supporting SHP and thus utilizing brownfield land for over 2000 of the new homes which the government wishes to be built in Thanet. Perhaps airport supporters should have invested their time and energy in lobbying local MPs to put pressure on the government as a whole to reduce the current quota.

    Why are Gale and McKinlay supporting RSP, whose plans, if they ever succeeded, would be seriously damaging to the health of thousands of local residents?

    • The airport doesn’t satisfy any of the brownfield criteria, so it shouldn’t even be classed as brownfield. Plus, it is down to Local government and therefore Thanet District Council, to state how many houses we should have.

  5. Awaiting the Anti-Airport trolls, hold on, I can hear the typing of the keyboard warriors now, not long now.

    • Manston Airport does not equal jobs. RSP have made it clear that (were they to be successful in their application) it would be a highly mechanized freight operation. There would be few jobs: Whetherspoons’ opening created more jobs .
      There is no need for the legal owners to produce a viability report. They can reasonably do what they like with their own land.
      The Avia report was produced by independent experts. Its conclusions were backed up by Davies, Falcon, York and years of experience of failure.
      There is not one independant expert report that says aviation will work at Manston in the foreseeable future.
      Why do I smell a rat, with RSP putting in a rehash of their fatally flawed application just a few days before TDC votes on the Local Plan?

      • You seriously can’t believe your own words can you?
        Do you understand the logistics behind running an airport?
        Passengers or no passengers there are a significant amount of jobs that would be created from the successful opening of manston, here are just a few examples:
        Border control
        Air traffic control
        Site Maintenance
        Customer service staff
        That’s just a few and not to mention the local businesses that could do well from it for example hoteliers, restraints, bars, B&B’s etc……
        Or for all you anti airport people, let’s chuck 2000+ houses on the site and reduce the already small amount of jobs in the local area, watch traffic congestion increase thus increasing insurance premiums and parking prices, a minimum of 10% of the houses will be put by for housing association that’s 200+ houses going to mainly non working residents taking more handouts and not contributing to the needs of the local economy.
        Rant over.

        • No need to rant; just voice your carefully considered and fact based argument.
          When the airpory was running, it employed fewer than 150 people. Expert opinion (Falcon, York) is that Manston could with a bit of luck drum up the level of business it had before. But RSP had said it wants freight, not PAX. It’s also said it’s going to have state of the art atomated cargo handling. So, in the unlikely event that Aircraft ever flew again from Manston, the numbet of jobs associated with it would be somewhat fewer than 150.
          2500 houses on Manston means 2500 houses not on greenfields at Birchington, Westgate and so on. Where would you put them?

          • If 2500 houses are built on Manston where are all the residents going to work, bearing in mind thanet already is and always has been one of the highest unemployment areas in the country, what is needed is something to create employment.

        • I think RSP just want the Planning Inspectorate to grant them their DCO so that they can get their mitts on a prime piece of brownfield land, make a token effort at flying a few planes, then give up and build 1000s of houses on it. Because if RSP had done their research properly and still fancied running a big airport, they wouldn’t want one at Manston.

          But of course that’s just my own personal opinion and I may be misjudging RSP.

          • If 2500 houses are not built on the former airport site, they’ll mostly be built on greenfield sites. SHP’s plans are for a mixed-use development including workplaces, and not including frequent aeroplanes flying over Ramsgate etc .

        • And this airport will not increase traffic? What about the storage of fuel for aircraft? Jobs mentioned were mostly for experienced workers. How will Ramsgate benefit from 24/7 flights of cargo planes. RSP say they will not introduce passenger aircraft for at least 3 years. Housing, how many people are waiting in substandard accommodation for social housing?Why have planning let builders renegade on a % of social housing that is imperative to our residents?

  6. Hurray, at last the DCO has been resubmitted. The viability of the airport will now be decided by PINS and the government’s Transport Secretary, not TDC, thank goodness.

    I read the present owners’ planning application 0660 on the TDC website – and the comments. Most Thanet residents objected to Stone Hill Park’s housing plans and so did most of the statutory consultees, such as South East Water, Police, MOD and the Environment Agency. SHP haven’t addressed previous matters yet from their 0550 plans either.

    Also, where are the viability studies for a massive housing estate on Manston Airport? We know Madeleine Homer (TDC’s CEO) would probably like nothing better than to reach her housing quota in one fell swoop, but she frequently says things need to be based on evidence, so where is there any evidence that houses on the airfield would be viable? I can’t find one person who can give me a link to any viability study or report done by TDC about housing on Manston Airport. Anyone?

    Manston Airport doesn’t fit any criteria for being a brownfield site either! So, what agenda do the TDC officers (and possibly KCC and other East Kent groups) have? Look at the success of other airports. They bring jobs and prosperity to an area. We already have one here, with a huge runway!

    And whilst I’m writing, why didn’t TDC put Thanet’s argument forward to the DCLG years ago, when they were due to do a new Local Plan for 2006? Successive leaders and councillors have failed to get officers to write to the DCLG, pointing out Thanet’s unique case of agricultural land which needs protecting. London might like the idea of lots of new houses with cheaper rents here, but we don’t need them for Thanet people! Only about 350 houses per annum are built in Thanet, so the thousands now being proposed by TDC are ludicrous.

    Anyway, it now looks as though the airport stands a very good chance of coming back after all, once it has been accepted for examination, so the DCO will trump any housing applications for building on Manston Airport. Bring it on, I say!

    • How do you know that “… the airport stands a very good chance of coming back ..”? None of the experts think so.

  7. Manston according to government plans is going to become a large lorry park due to a hard Brexit, meaning Thanet will be impossible to get out off!!

  8. For Ramsgate residents, whether lower- or upper-case, life near the kind of airport which RSP claim to want would be a nightmare of inescapable noise and pollution. That’s why I hope RSP’s application fails.

  9. It has been mentioned that RSP are happy to consider with KCC a joint approach to dealing with the various freight issues that affect East Kent. A joined up approach to the airport, ports (Ramsgate and Dover) and the lorry park issue would be a welcomed development. This is the pressing need with Brexit – not housing!

  10. Manston Airport would not create as many jobs as Wetherspoons. Best laugh I have had all day. Gotta love the anti airport trolls more more.

    • When the airport was open, and failing, it employed about 150 people. Not 300, not 3000 and certainly not the 30000 claimed by Dr Sally Dixon. They’re facts.
      When Whetherspoons opened, it created more than 150 jobs at a stroke, and continues to be a successful major employer in Ramdgate. They’re facts, too.

    • It would be interesting to read in this paper what the current annual birthrate in Thanet is. And what the projected figures for inward and outward migration are.

      Apropos trolls (in the non-folk legend sense)- are there no pro-airport trolls?

  11. The minutes of the meeting which was held three weeks ago between Riveroak and the Planning Inspectorate do not make happy reading. During that meeting the Inspectorate reiterated their concerns about clarity surrounding the funding arrangements and they queried (as they have done before) how this development constitutes a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. Do we think that RSP has addressed these serious shortcomings in the last three weeks, or do we think they are just submitting the application to make sure councillors vote to build houses elsewhere? We’ll know soon enough. They are allowed to submit and withdraw the application as many times as they like. If it’s withdrawn again we’ll know that they were just trying to manipulate the Local Plan process.

    • I am sure they have addressed the Planning Inspectorates concerns. When Dr Sally Dixon quotes 30,000 jobs it includes indirect jobs.

      I look forward to acceptance prior to examination by the middle of August 2018.

      • What does “acceptance prior to examination” mean?

        Why exactly, if I may ask, are you- Alan Barker- sure that RSP have addressed the Planning Inspectorate’s concerns?

        • Acceptance is exactly that, they read all the documentation, then make a decision as to whether it stands a very good chance of passing through the examination stage and becoming a DCO.

          The original application had some things that needed more explaining and some that simply needed rewriting in the language of the appropriate section ofbthe Planning Act. When RSP started, they were using the 2008 Act. Halfway through the Act was updated in 2016/2017 and so although they thought they had rewritten everything. They missed a few things.

          • They missed things like “was it an NSIP”; they missed great chunks of the EA; they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) say where the funding will come from. A little more taxing than simply needing re-writing!
            The PI had a meeting in Feb of this year at which concerns were expressed about the evidence supporting an NSIP. RSP still haven’t got it sorted out.

  12. As I recall, Dr. Dixon’s very optimistic job forecasts are at odds with RSP’s description of their proposed freight depot which would be heavily automated. Furthermore, the indirect jobs quoted do not have to be in the locality. They can, for example, include a company in the Midlands which is able to employ additional staff because of widgets it has imported via Manston.

  13. All those anti airport comments banging on about not bringing jobs … question i ask you where are the jobs coming from for the mass of houses that you support to build on the site of Manston Airport. Are there skilled workers in Thanet that are unemployed that for some reason or another cannot find jobs further afield. building houses does not create jobs ask the residents of Ashford

  14. I think Fraudmamm@co should be locked up and sir Roger Gale MP should have to share a smelly prison cell for being Knowingly Consered at the very least

  15. If not built on the former airport site, the houses will be built on greenfield sites. Why do people who want an airport seem not to grasp this?

    • Why can you not grasp that the houses will not be for Thanet residents but for people London wants to deposit in our bedutiful County, and not 1,500 houses, not 2,500 house, not 4,000 houses but upto 10,0000 houses under the SHP endgame! Do you really want that on your doorstep!!!!

      • The number of houses is determined by the Government. We get them with or without the airport. Until the lunatics voted down the Local Plan, TDC had some say in where the houses went. What is clear is that if some of those houses are not built on the ex airport site, they will be built on greenfields.
        What’s so difficult about *that* to grasp?

        • The goverment does not dictate how many snd where houses are built. Greed does, the house builders need huge amounts of land to continue making profits even if those houses lay unused or the land is banked for anything upto 20 years!

          • The local housing quotas are dictated by housebuilding firms, not by the government?

            Is that true?

      • Alan Barker at 7.18am says ” the houses will not be for Thanet residents”. But as the local plan covers several years, i don’t see how he can be so certain of this.

        Also, would it really be possible to fit 100,000 homes on SHP’s site?

        • My hands hit too many zeros at the end, as I am sure you realised. Quinn Estates quoted 10,000 in their Prospectus.

        • Agents are actively marketing Thanet as the next place to be outside of London! Have you not seen the adverts on the busses and in the property papers?

        • Once permission has been given for houses, they can take as long as they like. You only have to look at Salvatories site where they are building one at a time to sell !!!!! They have had the site for TWO YEARS, go count the houses on the site.

  16. The ads on the busses are from your very own Mills & Barr who are actively promoting Ramsgate and Thanet to people wishing to relocate from London to Thanet thus pushing up prices for the locals in both the buying and rental markets!

  17. I presume these ads are on London Transport buses then.

    Perhaps local people who wish to sell a house to other local people could ask a reasonable price, affordable for people who already work in local jobs.

    • Really? That is when greed sets in when the agents tell you how much your place is worth. Only when you try to buy somewhere else and their valuation has also risen too high! The same greed will settle in when thousands if homes come on the market and Landlords see easy profits. Lical people will not have a chance at homes on Manston (not that I see that happening) The busses travel between London and Kent.

  18. Blame Thatcher and subsequent Governments for the shortage of social housing and the national obsession with being home-owners. What we need is a proper Labour government, not the Tony Blair shade of Labour (bluish).

    • No Marva, it simply wants a national social housing network to take control over the hundreds of thousands of empty houses, some which require major overhauls and put them into the social housing pool. Use the process to take unemployed and teach them a trade! Hull City Council (my home town) did this and built 100 houses whilst training brickies, sparks, and plumbers.
      I am all for social housing for those in need, but I am against relocation from London to Kent just because it is cheaper, as this only increases the problems with schools, doctors, dentists, hospitals, and even crematoriums!

  19. People have always moved out of London to retire to the seaside. Always have and always will. There’s nothing wrong with this. The numbers of houses needed are perfectly reasonable when you consider that we haven’t been building enough homes for the last 30 years. That’s why the price of houses and rents have been escalating making life unaffordable for so many people. It isn’t about building social housing. It’s about building enough housing. NIMBYs have caused house prices to escalate. Now they want to keep them there.

  20. The root problem is with Tory ideology regarding housing. The same applies to public transport. Not to mention the NHS, public libraries, municipal swimming-pools, parks, sports fields…

  21. Tony Blair helped screw Great Britain up though too! Mind you I am happy to carry on this ideological discussion away from here as this is to do with bringing back an important asset to Great Britain, something I am very passionate about!

  22. It isn’t an important asset. It’s a redundant airfield which was given several opportunities to succeed in the commercial sector and failed.

    • the issues as to failure before were around the inability to have enough aircraft at the airfield hence the reason they plan to increase the number of hard standings. This will help facilitate the use of the airport as a cargo hub. The company is planning to spend £479 million on making sure that Manston is fit for purpose and does not fail.

  23. WOW!! the pro airport trolls have been busy today!!

    Lets just get some facts straight here;

    Jobs – RSP’s own original estimate was from memory around 140 jobs, most of which – ATC for example – would be outsouced. The claim of 30,000 jobs is completely laughable.

    Houses – houses ARE coming. The choice is houses or houses and 24/7 freight hub.

    Employment – commuters travel, always have, that’s why there are towns and villages on rail lines, and as transport gets faster, people live further out. Best bit is, when they come home, they spend what they earn where they live, THANET.

    Congestion – again, houses are coming, Manston or no Manston

    Not a brownfield site – seriously?

    “What is a brownfield site?
    ‘Brownfield’ land is an area of land or premises that has been previously used, but has subsequently become vacant, derelict or contaminated. This term derived from its opposite, undeveloped or ‘greenfield’ land.”

    And as for a struck off lawyer and a US property lawyer being able to come up with £500 million, if you believe that, I have a REALLY nice bridge for sale.

  24. It’ll be taken out of their hands by the government. All they’ve succeeded in doing is demonstrating that they can’t be trusted to act in the best interests of the area they are supposed to represent.

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