TDC backing for mixed use new settlement a ‘victory for common sense’

Stone Hill Park (SHP) has strongly welcomed the continued recommendation by Thanet District Council (TDC) officers that the draft Local Plan continues to allocate the former Manston airport for a mixed-use new settlement development, providing thousands of new homes and jobs for local people.

SHP joint owner, Trevor Cartner, said: “I would urge anyone with an interest in the future of Thanet to read this report. It is a victory for common sense and outlines in clear detail why developing this site for a mixed use new settlement is essential.

“Stone Hill Park will create an outstanding new community that meets the urgent local need for homes, schools and jobs while enhancing the social and leisure infrastructure across the county.

It will also protect greenfield sites across the district. We don’t want to see thousands of new homes in the countryside when we can regenerate a brownfield site and breathe new life into the area.”

“We are continuing to progress our planning application to TDC, which meets these priorities and we are progressing an enhanced masterplan for the wider site. These plans include extensive community health, education and social facilities.

“We will also open up 800 acres of land for public use and we will transform key parts of the main runway into an exciting recreational and events space, which will be set alongside new and enhanced heritage attractions that will celebrate the rich history of Manston. Our aim is to bring the past to life, providing a great opportunity for visitors to learn about and experience this iconic site’s history.”

In reaching their evidence–based recommendation, the officers considered an independent report by AviaSolutions that concluded RiverOak Strategic Partners’(RSP) plans were not viable. Avia are aviation consultants who specialise in UK regional airports and cargo airlines. Their clients over the last 15 years have included a range of major airport operators and airlines, as well as government departments (UK, EU and non-EU) and many privately owned airports.

Following RSP’s recent submission to the Local Plan process Avia has reviewed their report and their conclusion is that the submission does not put forward ‘a sufficiently credible case, nor provides the evidence, for AviaSolutions to change its views on the financial viability of Manston Airport.’

TDC’s cabinet will meet on Wednesday, 25 October to consider the officers’ recommendation that mixed-use development of the site for a new settlement be taken forward under the Local Plan in accordance with the evidence.

Ray Mallon, spokesman for SHP, said:

“Councillors now have an even clearer position, strengthened further by impartial, professional advice of their officers and an independent expert. They also now know that our legal and aviation experts have concluded that RSP’s plans for a freight airport are unlawful and are a fantasy in any event.

“Councillors should follow the proper evidence and support their officers’ recommendation. This will then allow further public consultation to take place and a Local Plan to be submitted by March 2018.

“Missing this deadline would mean that local planning would be taken into Government control and green belt housing will have to increase.”