A decision on an application to build houses, business and leisure facilities on the Manston airport site will not be made before the end of this year, says landowner Stone Hill Park.
A statement from SHP says although the application should have been considered by Thanet council’s planning committee by August 15 ‘the complexity’ of the situation has led to an agreed extension of December 31.
SHP want to create some 3,700 homes, 46,000 sq m of advanced/hi-tech employment space, schools, a food store, cafes/restaurants, a 120-bed hotel and a health centre. Space for a small-scale campus for higher/further education is also planned as well as public, the retention of the non-operational part of the former main runway as a recreational and community event space and The East Kent Sports Village with facilities including Kent’s first 50m Olympic sized swimming pool and a WaveGarden surf lake.
Plans also include the completion of the first part of a strategic link road through the site to allow for future connections to Westwood Cross.
Development Consent application
However, linked to the planning application are the issues of a Development Consent Order submitted by Riveroak Strategic Partners seeking development consent and compulsory acquisition powers over the land.
The application has been accepted by the Planning Inspectorate for the pre-examination stage and public comment, via registration, is now open.
RSP want to return aviation to the site with an international cargo hub and possibly passenger flights.
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 has to go through a pre-examination and then an examination stage before a decision on whether to grant the order is made.
The Planning Inspectorate has approximately three months to prepare for the Examination. Once the application moves on to Phase 4 (Examination) there is a maximum of 12 months for the Secretary of State to make a decision on whether to approve the DCO to reopen Manston airport.
SHP says it will contest the DCO through the Planning Inspectorate process via representations and through the examination hearings.
Draft Local Plan
A second issue is Thanet’s Draft Local Plan – a blueprint for housing and infrastructure on the isle up to 2031. The plan, also currently open for public comment, does not allocate the Manston airport site for development.
Initially it was earmarked for 2,500 homes in a draft plan that went to a council vote in January. However, this plan was voted down with the majority of councillors who voted against it doing so because they wanted aviation-only retained at the site.
The new version of the plan has allocated the 2,500 ‘airport homes’ to other isle sites, including Birchington and Westgate, with the proviso they are phased in at the end of the plan period,
The aviation policies for the site currently in force will also not be retained in the new plan. Instead the draft local plan includes text that recognises the existing use of the airport and acknowledges the current DCO process for the site but specific aviation policies have been deleted as officers say they cannot produce evidence to warrant their inclusion.
An amendment indicates that the status of the Manston site will be reviewed after a minimum of two years if a DCO or compulsory purchase of the land has not been agreed by that date.
SHP director Trevor Cartner says the firm is ‘committed’ to its application for the site but due to the complexities will not appeal to the Planning Inspectorate over Thanet council’s failure to make a decision within the obligatory 16 week period.
Mr Cartner said: “This is a big application for council officers to consider and they have a duty to ensure that they have examined every detail of the application, which includes an analysis of our environmental, archaeological, transport, and other survey reports and appraisals, the detail of which cannot be expected to be completed within a 16-week period.
“TDC officers are in close contact with the SHP planning team, which is normal for a planning application of this magnitude and the outline planning application is a work in progress.
“SHP cannot expect the council officers to place the application before the planning committee without the fullest information, as this would be unprofessional on their part and raise lots of questions by the planning committee members.”
SHP will continue to work with council officers towards the new agreed expiry date for a decision by the end of the year.
Find out more
To make comment on the Draft Local Plan click here
To see SHP’s planning application go to www.thanet.gov.uk, click through to the planning portal and enter reference OL/TH/18/0660