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 It was withdrawn in early May after PINS’ requested further information about parts of the application.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.”
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 www.thanet.gov.uk, click through to the planning portal and enter reference OL/TH/18/0660
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.