Stone Hill Park withdraws application for development of Manston airport site following sale

The SHP plans

Enhanced planning proposals for homes, business and leisure on the Manston airport site have been withdrawn.

The enhanced plans were submitted to Thanet District Council by former  land owners Stone Hill Park in 2018.

The proposals set out the vision for up to 3,700 homes built over a 15-20-year period, 46,000 sq m of advanced/hi-tech employment space which SHP said would 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 included a heritage airport with an operational runway suitable for classic, vintage and potentially light aviation.

The relocation of the Spitfire and Hurricane Museum and RAF Museum, public parks, the retention of the non-operational part of the former main runway as a recreational and community event space were also included along with proposals for an East Kent Sports Village.

The plan also featured schools,a  food store, cafes/restaurants, a 120-bed hotel and a health centre. Space for a small-scale campus for higher/further education was also planned.

At the time of the submission SHP said the development would mean Thanet council receiving New Homes Bonus of £41.9m and annual tax receipts of £7m.

But the plans have now been scrapped following a lengthy wrangle with RiverOak Strategic Partners which applied for a Development Consent Order to implement its plans for a cargo airport at the site.

Initially the DCO was to have included permission for compulsory purchase of SHP’s land. However, yesterday (July 10) the sale of the land to RSP for £16.5million was completed.

On July 3 SHP chairman Trevor Cartner said: “The site has been the subject of considerable debate over the past five years of our ownership and we have invested a substantial seven figure sum in pursuing a planning application for our vision for the site but that has been met with little support from Thanet District Council.

“Having now been made what we consider to be a very good offer for the site we have decided to sell. We wish RSP good luck in their own aspirations for the future of the airport. At some point in the near future we will restructure our company and invest the capital released into other major regeneration projects throughout the UK.”

SHP is also due to withdraw its objection to the DCO and will no longer participate in the Local Plan Enquiry. The firm retains its contract, and payments, with the Department for Transport for use of the Manston site as a ‘Brexit’ lorry park and would be responsible for providing equipment if the site is used for the parking up of HGVs.

Draft Local Plan

Thanet’s Draft Local Plan is a blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure up until 2031. The plan sets out how much development is needed to support the future population and economy. Transport, employment and infrastructure -such as roads, schools and GP surgeries – are also examined in the plan.

The SHP development plans, with a lower housing figure of 2,500, had been earmarked in Thanet’s Draft Local Plan as a contribution towards a housing target of 17,140 isle homes by 2031.

In January last year the plan was voted down by Thanet councillors with 35 members against putting the plan forward to the next stage and 20 in favour.

The vote, which led to the end of the UKIP administration, was mainly based on the change of status for Manston which proposed to ditch aviation-only use designation and replace it with a mixed use for development.

An “11th hour” amendment to defer for two years the mixed-use designation for Manston airport pending the resolution of the DCO process was not enough to get the plan voted through to publication stage.

In July last year Thanet councillors voted to move forward with a new Draft Local Plan which will mean the re-allocation of 2,500 homes to greenfield sites in the villages, Margate and Westwood as part of a pledge to retain aviation use at Manston airport.

The public examination of the draft Local Plan has taken place, between January and May, with rescheduled hearings this month.

A hearing set for July 16 was due to discuss Manston airport with focus on the wording of suggested changes to the Local Plan.


  1. So a plan comes to fruition and 742 acres of brownfield is now owned by HLX Nominees in Tortola British Virgin Islands. A tax haven with finance being directed from Belize another tax haven.
    But the plane crazy airport supporters have no problem with that because “airport”
    It is amazing how easy it is to lower your morals when you want to

  2. I hope RSP match Stone Hill Parks offer of building 400 social homes. Which we so badly need. I also hope RSP have a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility.

  3. The 35 members of Thanet District Council who stopped the adoption of the Local Plan, should hang their heads in shame. If they don’t realise their complicity in opening the door to additional noise and air pollution for the people who live and work in Thanet, then, if legally possible, they should be held responsible for acting against the health, amenity and future prosperity of the people of Thanet.

  4. The SHP plans were never viable ….They realised that RiverOak were far more appropriate to the site, and the Examination of the DCO exposed that.
    Consequently they negotiated an acceptable sale price, which was very swiftly concluded..
    Granting all of SHPs freehold of the Airport to RiverOak..
    That makes the DCO process so much easier, by removing the Compulsory Acquisition element from the equation….
    In reply to Cllr Constantine, RiverOak are on record stating that they have no plans or intentions of building housing on any part of their site.
    As regards the Local Plan, SHP, RiverOak and TDC, have been instructed to reach an agreement as to the designation of the site, and the preservation of the existing Aviation Only designation, as SHP, have opted out , it is now up to TDC and RiverOak to agree, a form of words acceptable to the Examining Inspector ….
    If they can’t agree , he will compose it himself…
    I can’t predict the TDC response , but would be shocked to find that it’s a change from what currently exists ….

    • That’s an interesting spin on it! SHP said at the hearings a deal was agreed around the start of the examination but RiverOak couldn’t get the funding – how swift is swift? Also DCO hasn’t shown RiverOak’s plans in a good light – see latest stuff on MOD beacon, noise and traffic. Still don’t think it’ll open as a cargo hub as the government can’t let them off the hook from paying the right level of compensation! Will be houses in time

    • How on Earth were SHP’s plans not viable?
      More than 700 acres of brownfield site, a pressing need for housing and industry – what’s not to like about it?
      The DCO process is no easier than it ever was. All the criteria that the DCO had to meet still have to be met. And RSP still don’t own the freehold of all the site – there’s the small matter of a chunk of MoD land right in the middle of the site, for example.
      RSP might have told the faithful that they have no intention of building houses. But consider this: There is no shortage of dedicated air cargo in the UK. In fact, the demand is falling. Even if there was a shortage (which there isn’t), Manston is ill suited to meet that (non – existant) demand.
      RSP’s own “business plan” shows that they will be charging carriers 4 times as much as East Midlands. And it will still take around 16 years to start getting a return on their huge investment.
      They might say they’re not interested in houses. But if they’re interested in making lots of money in a short time, then houses it will be.

    • LOL Riveroak don’t own the land. Keep up, HLX Nominees own the land. They are registered in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
      Was that denial of houses by Tony Fraudmann if so do you accept the word of a struck off solicitor?

  5. This sorry saga is a disgrace and is yet more evidence of narrow minded aviation sentiment and anti housing anti outsider feeling by enough of TDC and others in the community. As SHP said, they were met with little support by TDC.

    Bang goes relevant use of brownfield land, with investment in infrastructure and GP and education services and for what? For an inept one page business plan that involves landing some freeze dried fish and the certain ruination of Ramsgate so that some plane spotters can watch some racehorse cargo planes landing and hope nobody moves to Thanet ever.

    A dark day for our community.

    Regeneration has gone backwards.

  6. I imagine residents of Westgate and Birchington will be celebrating the withdrawal of redevelopment plans for the site of the former, failed airport. The decision to withdraw the plans for housing means that those houses will now be built on the greenfield sites by pro-airport councillors. Meanwhile, if it does emerge that the airport is not viable, TDC will have missed a golden opportunity to solve Thanet’s employment and housing needs for the next 30 years. I imagine everybody who is in the business of promoting tourism in Thanet must be really pleased to see the end of the wave-pool scheme which had been proposed. I’m sure it could never have been as successful as the ones elsewhere in the country. For once, Thanet had the opportunity to deal bona fide developers with a track record of success in regeneration and redevelopment. Instead, airport-crazy councillors have handed the site over to a struck-off solicitor and a bunch of anonymous investors whose identities are hidden behind an offshore account. Sounds like Pleasurama all over again to me.

  7. Why should Riveroak or any
    Other developers be expect to build social housing. We had a lot of social housing they were called Council houses that the government chose to sell off to win an election, then not content with selling the houses off at a disgusting under market value they then kept the monies to give tax cuts to the rich.

  8. Developers are expected, even under the Tories, to contribute in some tiny way or other to the increasingly fragile well-being of the local inhabitants. Seems reasonable to me,considering the enormous profit which housing developers make. It’s not as if the repeal of the Right to Buy is about to happen and council housing in adequate numbers be built throughout the land – there’s going to be a housing shortage for years.

  9. FFS – it is the same handful of protagonists airing the same views over and over and over and over and over . . .

    It is all getting rather boring. It is as bad as Brexit – the two sides are poles apart with no common ground.

    Nobody knows what is going to happen until something happens – and then one side or the other will be able to proudly proclaim, “I told you so !”.

    In the meantime, please give it a rest.

  10. Why should RSP build social homes Cllr Constantine? The idea is Thanet improves in terms of employment opportunities and earning potential, so social homes are not so needed. Surely as a Labour politician you are in favour of something that is to the benefit of working people? It is about time Thanet forged its own identity and found a new direction with this time a properly funded airport designed for current and future projected needs. It is here – an aviation facility waiting to be used. It is foolhardy to not use it when there is a stated shortage of capacity in the southeast. I wonder how many airport opposers are actually affected by the social deprivation, poverty and poor earning opportunities of Thanet? Also how many who protest about the offshore investments of RSP are similarly outraged at those of Ann Gloag or Pauline Bradley (IOM resident btw????) – the architects of this whole shambolic pantomime in the first place. This whole business for the last five years has wasted a massive amount of time that could have been used building up Thanet prosperity. And as for the peace and quiet argument – there is little in Thanet anyway. It is a chaotic shambles of traffic gridlocked in jambs or chasing its tail round and round. If it is like that anyway, there might as well be something else positive going on here as well – rather than frustratingly nothing very much of any significance. Currently it is the worst of both worlds. Overpopulation and gridlocked traffic AND depressed business and jobs scene. There are plenty of truly quiet and peaceful little towns around the south coast people can move to if they want that

  11. God help us! I was referring to you not Kathy,whatever anyone thinks time will tell so take a pill and wait it out

  12. I forgot to add in my post about offshore investments etc. – it is just the way international business is these days. Ever more so, whatever the rights orc wrongs of it and however much you may agree with it or not. There is no point in elevating your blood pressure over it! Whoever ended up with Manston and whatever they intended to do with it – it would involve a significant amount of offshore investment and funding from hedge-funds etc. However you may disapprove of the modern financial and banking world it will not change in the foreseeable future. The best you can hope for is that as far as you are concerned it is used for projects you welcome and want to see.

  13. It’s the Examining Authority that’s asking who has the money, and where’s it coming from. It’s a question of money laundering and so on.
    As for “airport designed for current and future projected needs” – there currently is no need for a dedicated cargo hub (The subject of the DCO), and once Heathrow R3 opens there will be no need for any future airport expansion in the UK for decades.
    I notice that TDC declared a “Climate Emergency” last night. How does that square with expanding aviation?

  14. Aviation only acounts for a very small percentage of CO2 emissions. There are other areas much more worthy of attention. However, aviation is something everyone sees, it is ‘obvious’ to the everyday observer, leaves contrails that everyone sees, also has connotations of affluence. In short items an easy target for the environmental publicists and propagandists. I am not saying it is entirely innocent, but let’s keep it all in proportion Tony. Other sources of emissions are rarely if ever mentioned – in spite of being very much more significant. Industrialisation of 3rd world countries, expansion of Chinese and Indian industry (serving western demand) using less than current technology. These are out of site and not seen as ‘politically correct’ to criticise. Much harder targets! Aviation meanwhile is much less significant in the scheme of things and is cleaning up its act with considerable investment being made into into cleaner and sustainable technologies

  15. And I suppose you are right Tony that there is ‘no need for dedicated cargo hub’. I suppose that is why RSP have spent £millions already and have doggedly pursued this DCO for years. Are you for real?? Your argument is flying-blind, and you are not looking at your instruments ????

    • As well as aviation, the use of private transport using fossil fuels should be severely restricted and public transport should be vastly improved.

        • I don’t think more aeroplanes are an improvement, public or not. Actually, I don’t think of them as public transport, in the same generally despised and underfunded realm as buses, trains and trams.

    • Not my arguments, but those of Davies, Falcon, Avia, York and Altitude Aviation.
      Oh! And Riveroak’s own data, too.
      As for CO2 emissions: it’s true that aviation, although the most polluting of transport systems, doesn’t produce as much CO2 as other transport modes. However, I would argue that most aviation is completely unnecessary. For example, we do need to travel to work (by train or bus) to earn money to live. We do not meet to fly off to Singapore for a business meeting.Aviation could be cut drastically without harming the quality of life that most of us enjoy.
      The greatest single CO2 producer is electricity generation. This can and is being reduced by the use of renewables such as wind.

  16. Thomas Cook are also looking at Manston Airport as one of the solutions to their restructuring and the long-term benefits it would give them. Just think of how conveniently placed they would be for the whole of the South East

    • Just as conveniently placed as over the 15 years that Manston failed over and over again. Managed on one occasion by the failed solicitor Tony Freudmann: a chap who knows a thing or two about travel agencies: he was running The Travel Club of Upminster when it went bust, leaving hundreds of holiday makers in the lurch.

  17. TONY. You talk utter rot and should find something else to moan about. Manston Airport is Manston Airport And it will remain Manston Airport. Get over it. It is the likes of you that has made THANET one of the most deprived areas of the UK for gods sake grow up. Boring boring boring.

    • It would be less boring if, instead of telling me to “grow up” and that I’m talking “utter rot” you put forward a logically constructed and factually based argument to support aviation at Manston.
      That pro-airport supporters only ever resort to verbal abuse suggests that there are none.
      All that I’ve said in my posts has been a matter of public record.
      I make no apologies of you don’t like it. It’s a matter of fact.

    • Since the airport closed, unemployment, then running at 10%, has dropped to 5%.
      Obviously the Airport has had in influence on Thanet’s “deprivation”: since it closed, things have got better.

  18. Andrew. You are another one with your head in the clouds. Universal Credit has forced many into work, its yet another con of course. It has also forced many women into prostitution to survive. If you look at the background and talk to those who are claiming Universal credit you will find the true picture. When the government boast about employment figures what they don’t tell you about it the number of those who have dropped-off the system rather than be forced into poverty by UC idiots stopping their payments without warning. There are more food banks in the UK than ever before. When Manston Airport was closed there was 155 direct employed staff and 516 individuals who relied on the Airport for income.

  19. The “true picture” is that employment is better (And hence deprivation is down) since the airport closed.
    I notice that you haven’t taken up Tony’s invitation to enter into a meaningful debate.

  20. Andrew, you are using other names on here or you are some kind of rep for ‘ Tony’ it’s not possible to have a meaningful debate with someone who does not know what they are talking about but they make out they do. Therefore the conversation becomes delusional.

    • Sorry, you’ve lost me.
      On the one hand, I offer you facts.
      On the other hand, you hurl verbal abuse.
      Which is the greater impediment to debate, do you think?

  21. News Flash…….
    Planes are halted at Leeds Bradford Airport after reports of drone in the area.
    OH no, well they better close the Airport and build houses on it.

    • Manston Airport was an airport till a few years ago and is now a large brownfield site. It is a suitable site for housing and clean industries.

  22. Another NEWS FLASH.
    Heathrow strike: Airport could be ‘shut down’ over summer as more than 4,000 workers walk out.

    Oh no why don’t they close it down and build houses on it. They can send all the planes to Manston.

    • I think you’d better have a lie down in a dark room for a bit.
      You really seem to have lost the plot.

    • If Ann wants people to consider her arguments she should start being more polite. Currently I am being insulted by “Ann” on this thread and by “Woody” on another. Now why on earth would I, or anyone else who is insulted on this very local newspaper, look dispassionately
      at any factual arguments they give to back up their opinions? Having posted on this site for a couple of years, I now think that some people simply don’t want people who disagree with them to express their opinions in public at all.

  23. Was it Aristotle who said “Violence is the repartee of the inarticulate”?
    (In this case, for “violence” read “verbal abuse”)

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