The next steps in a bid by firm RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) to gain compulsory buy-out powers over the Manston airport site have been published by the government Planning Inspectorate (PINs).
RSP submitted a Development Consent Order application on July 16. It followed the withdrawal of a previous application after PINs requested further information related to funding, to the categorisation of the project as being of national significance, and to aspects of the supporting environmental statements.
The DCO seeks development consent and compulsory buy-out 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 Manston airport site is owned by Stone Hill Park which has lodged an application to develop housing, leisure and business on the land.
The resubmitted DCO application was accepted for the pre-examination stage by the Planning Inspectorate in August. More than 2,000 representations were then made by residents, businesses and organisations. Among these were 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 Stone Hill Park.
PINs has now published the timetable for hearings and deadlines for information to be submitted during the examination of the DCO application.
A preliminary hearing will be held at Margate Winter Gardens on January 9 followed by an issue specific meeting on January 10 and open floor hearings on January 10-11.
A full examination timetable will be issued after the first deadline of January 18.
The timetable consists of a series of deadlines for the submission of material requested by the examination panel.
These include an accurate outline of wildlife conservation areas affected by the airport proposal, evidence of the section 106 agreement from 2000, a year 2 traffic assessment, air pollution and noise impact information, clarification on the area covered by the Northern Grass and progress on acquiring land without the DCO.
Reports from local authorities, including Thanet, are required on local impact. A list of authorities and organisations are also asked for statements of common ground – those areas of the DCO submission agreed or disagreed with – to be submitted by February 8.
A site inspection is pencilled in for March 19 and further hearings, if necessary, are earmarked for June. The examination process will be completed by July 9.
It is thought the examination report and recommendation will be submitted to the Secretary of State by November with a decision likely to be announced in January 2020.
Airport or housing?
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.
However, 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.
SHP director Trevor Cartner, says the firm will contest the DCO application ‘rigorously.’
The decision by the Secretary of State might not be the final hurdle for the Manston site’s future. Once a decision has been issued there is a six week period in which it can be challenged in the High Court. This process of legal challenge is known as Judicial Review.
First examination hearings
Margate Winter Gardens
January 9 – Prelim hearing 10am
January 10 – Issue specific meeting 10am open floor hearing 7pm
January 11 open floor hearing 10am
Examination documents will be held at libraries across Thanet, Sandwich, Deal, Herne Bay
Keep up to date with the process online at infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/south-east/manston-airport/