Representations published and panel selected for next stage of Manston Development Consent Order bid

Manston airport site

Just over 2,000 representations have been made by Thanet residents and by organisations and businesses in response to a Development Consent Order application submitted by the firm hoping to bring aviation back to the Manston airport site.

RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) resubmitted its application for the DCO on July 16 after withdrawing a previous submission.

The DCO seeks development consent and compulsory acquisition powers over the land. It is the means of obtaining permission for developments categorised as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP). This includes energy, transport, water and waste projects.

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 It was withdrawn in early May after PINS’ requested further information about parts of the application.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 resubmitted application was accepted for the pre-examination stage by the Planning Inspectorate in August.

Among the representations made to the Planning Inspectorate are submissions from the Ministry of Defence, Historic England, Highways England, Dover and Thanet district councils, Kent County Council and a document from law firm Pinsent Masons on behalf of landowner Stone Hill Park.

SHP objection

In the document SHP say the report, by Azimuth Associates, putting forward RSP’s case was ‘deeply flawed.’

Pinsent Masons also question the validity of any backing from Thanet council. Saying: “ TDC has a troubled history of dispute between Members and officers, with Members seeking to overrule evidence led professional advice from its officer team.”

The submission adds: “SHP objects to the inclusion of the SHP Land and its interests within the scope of compulsory acquisition powers in the proposed DCO.

“SHP has a realistic and viable development proposal for much needed housing and mixed use development, whereas RSP’s proposal is, at best , speculative but with no realistic prospect of a long term viable operation.”

Backing from Dover

The submission from Dover District Council supports the DCO application, saying: “DDC welcomes and offers its full support to RiverOak Strategic Partners’ (RSP) proposal to re-open Manston Airport as an operational freight-focused airport and recognises the positive contribution it would make to the regeneration of the East Kent economy, as well as the UK’s aviation economy.”

Mixed messages from Thanet councillors

Thanet council says: “Thanet District Council does not object to this development of the airport for aviation and has made significant efforts to support a functioning aviation use on the site,” adding issues, such as the Draft Local Plan, need to be taken into consideration.

However, a submission from Thanet’s UKIP and Independent Group alliance objects to the proposal, stating: “It is the contention of the UKIP and Independent group on Thanet District Council that the RSP application to PINS for a Development Consent Order for the Manston Airport site lacks the necessary coherence, evidence, and credibility to gain approval and create a genuinely functioning aviation operation which could be tolerated by the local community.”

Wildlife, heritage and public health

Kent Wildlife Trust raises concerns in its submission about the impact on species and habitats, at the site and immediately surrounding area while Historic England submits worries over the “risk of potential harm to heritage assets.”

Public Health England said it welcomed the work already carried out but would like more evidence in areas such as sleep disturbance and noise mitigation.

Parish council support

The revived airport plan has received backing in submissions from Cliffsend Parish Council and Minster Parish Council although the latter adds: “We seek assurance that night flights will be kept to a minimum.”

Representations by the public have also been made and appear to be fairly evenly split between objections and support.

Political responses

South Thanet Labour parliamentary hopeful Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt submitted a representation raising concerns over night flights and noise mitigation.

In regards to the submissions she said: “I’m impressed that over 2,000 submissions were made to PINs as part of the DCO application process. This shows a high level of engagement on the part of our community. I understand that just under 50% of responses were in favour and just over 50% were against the proposal to operate a cargo hub at Manston.

“In the course of my work, I meet many people on both sides of the argument, and I look forward to reading some of the responses. My main objective is to make sure that the people of Thanet are best served by any eventual plan for the Manston site.”

Sir Roger Gale 

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale’s submission supports the DCO application. In it he says: “At all elections at every level of Government since the announced closure of Manston Airport there has been a clear and overwhelming local mandate for the re-opening of Manston for aviation and related businesses.

“I myself have campaigned on and supported this platform in the strong belief that Manston represents a unique piece of national infrastructure that is needed in the national interest now, will be needed in the future and that, if lost, cannot be recreated. ”

 Find all the representations here

Panel and next steps

An Examining Authority panel has now been selected, consisting of Martin Broderick, Jonathan Hockley, Kelvin MacDonald and Jonathan Manning as panel members with Kelvin MacDonald as the Lead Member of the panel.

A Preliminary Meeting, run and chaired by the Examining Authority, will now be arranged.

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.

RSP proposal

RSP’s plan for Manston includes an international cargo hub, as well as offering 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.

Stone Hill Park plans

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

The documents, published on the Thanet council website, outline plans for up to 4,000 homes,  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.

A decision on the application is yet to be made.

Read here: A look back at the long Manston saga


  1. The Representations make for an entertaining read. Given the dreadful weather forecast for this weekend, I suggest that you couldn’t go far wrong than to curl up on the sofa with a cup of cocoa in one hand and your favourite ‘droid device in the other and have a browse through.
    See how many people think that Manston has the longest runway in Europe! Check out the number that think that there’s a growing demand for air freight in the UK!!
    Boggle at those who think that a Representation to the PI in respect of RSP’s plan is the correct place to slag off TDC, its Officers and Elected Representatives!!!
    Someone carried out a brief analysis of the Representations, and concluded that 46% were in favour of RSP’s plan, and just over 50% against.
    Yep, that’s 46% in favour. Not 98% as various people would tell us.

    • But in terms of actual head counts, we should bear in mind that SMAA (have they sent a group submission?) consists of several thousand airport supporters!

  2. How can Roger Gale continue to lie about ‘a clear and overwhelming mandate’ for Manston when in black and white, over 50% of the PINS representations were against it reopening as a cargo hub?

  3. I hope Manston airport does reopen as an airport. It was intentionally run down before it was closed and sold in an underhanded manner. The outrage that locals felt about the closer was totally underestimated by that women who pretended to purchase the airport for a £1.

    • It would be absolutely dreadful for everyone under the flight path (Ramsgate and Herne Bay residents etc) if this absurd proposal was accepted. However, as Manston cannot plausibly be described as a hub, it’s unlikely that RSP’s plans will get the go-ahead from PINS. Of course the sticking-points involve other things. Money, for instance- RSP seems very short of it.

      Why would anyone living in Ramsgate support RSP?

  4. The airport was not ‘run down’. Too few Thanet people used it to make it viable.
    It never made a profit.
    Over the years, it lost £100,000,000.00
    The failing airport was put on the international market for 22 months by PwC.
    No one bought it.
    Not RiverOak Investment Corporation of America.
    Not RiverOak Strategic Partners.
    Not Tony Freudmann.
    Until Ann Gloag did, for a nominal £1, plus all the debts.
    In fact, Ann, you’re wrong on every count.

  5. Now is the time for Sir Roger Gale to do as he said he would, and that is to retire ! He is wrong to continue in the face of all the constituents that tell him NO they don’t believe the airport in any form can make a comeback at Manston. He promised to go so just go and let the saga take it’s final course. Flogging a long drawn out white elephant was not the best thing for Thanet.

  6. I campaigned twice on a no night flights and no air cargo hub manifesto. And won twice. Some residents are very clearly opposed to an Air Cargo hub. I think I’ve attened almost all the public consultations, and I’ve met with both RSP & SHP. I can see no efficacy in the RSP plan. Whereas SHP offer a positive way forward, one that would enhance Thanet’s economic prospects. SHP also offered 400 social homes, that’s council housing. Like many areas, Thanet really needs many more decent family homes. Whatever the outcome of the DCO, and I know what I would bet on, it’s a great shame that this much needed offer to Thanet has, for the time being, been stymied.

  7. The decent thing for Beau Webber to do would be to concede that the majority do not want this airport reopened and to wind up the campaign which he has led, and which has caused so much economic damage. Sir Roger should announce his retirement and, as they love noise and pollution so much, the rest of the pro-airport fanatics should sell up and move under the flight path for Gatwick.

  8. As a long term opposer to the re-opening of Manston I have submitted my objections to the Planning Inspectorate and have been duly accorded as making a “Relevant Representation” and being registered as an official “Interested Party”. The main criteria for granting a Development Consent Order (DCO) is that the applicant (RiverOak) must be able to demonstrate to the Planning Inspectorate reopening Manston as an airport would be of Nationally Strategic Infrastructure Interest.

    Quite how the RiverOak can convince the Planning Inspector that a small redundant airport, less than two miles from Ramsgate town, which has a history of failure by at least 4 previous owners, would become a Nationally Significant Project, when there are at least 5 or more existing airports better located North of London, with spare cargo capacity remains to be seen!

    Also, just how many of those in favour of reopening Manston, actually live under the flight path, which runs over Ramsgate Harbour, at a height of 300 meters, over Ramsgate town at 250/200 meters, and at just 100 meters high over Nethercourt? Its been reported that RiverOak plan some 12,000 flights pa, or 2 to 3 an hour over Ramsgate, day and night! This will destroy tourism in Ramsgate’s bustling, and successful Harbour, devalue housing, make work, or schooling impossible, and severely impact on the health of thousands due to noise, and air pollution! I am looking forward to expanding all the above at the next stage of the Planning Inspectorates inquiry, and in the meantime urge everyone who is in favour of the re-opening Manston to reflect on the fact there will be no passenger fights to Spain or elsewhere, and any jobs would go to skilled outsiders, who will have nowhere to live due to the lack of housing in Thanet!

Comments are closed.