RiverOak Strategic Partners





RiverOak Strategic Partners

Stone Hill Park’s plans for Manston Airport thrown out

Published on July 17th 2017

Stone Hill Park’s appeals to change the use of four buildings at Manston Airport to non-aviation use have been dismissed by the independent Planning Inspectorate (13 July 2017).

During the inquiry, as part of the appeal to change the use of the buildings, Stone Hill Park as the landowners for the site conceded that their proposals would generate only “modest” economic benefits.

In contrast, the Inspector found that the adopted development plan, the National Planning Policy Framework, and national aviation policy all recognise:

“the economic importance of the airport and safeguards the appeal site for aviation uses”.

At the inquiry, RiverOak presented significant evidence which countered Stone Hill Park’s assertions that Manston had no prospect of returning to airport use. RiverOak also questioned Thanet District Council’s reliance on the AviaSolutions report, with the Inspector noting in his decision that the AviaSolutions report explicitly:

“does not offer any opinion about the reasonableness or otherwise of RiverOak’s plans for the airport”.

The Inspector considered the emerging Local Plan, on which Thanet District Council recently consulted, which allocates the airport site for non-aviation uses. He found that the plan was not only at a very early formative stage but was also subject to various outstanding objections, specifically noting neighbouring Council Dover District Council’s response to the consultation and the failure of Thanet to comply with the duty to cooperate. So the Inspector found that he could only give the emerging plan limited weight. The decision therefore highlights some of the issues with the Council’s emerging Local Plan, and difficulties that Thanet may face when it comes to submitting the plan to the Planning Inspectorate for examination.

Stone Hill Park has confirmed that its application for a large mixed use scheme on the airport site will be finally heard by the Council later this year. Although the application was initially submitted in May 2016 it has yet to be considered by the Council as the application was incomplete, with the further information requested still outstanding. This latest decision from the Planning Inspectorate, which brings into question the Council’s reliance on the AviaSolutions report and a questionable emerging Local Plan, may make it difficult for the Council to grant permission for the larger scheme.

George Yerrall, director of RiverOak Strategic Partners, said:

“RiverOak is delighted with the outcome of the inquiry. We have always known that Manston should be an airport and the Inspector’s decision is a huge step forward for us.

“The decision recognises the importance of Manston as a unique piece of infrastructure and the need to protect it from opportunistic development.

“RiverOak is committed to pursuing the reopening of the airport and overcoming the artificial hurdles created by the landowners and Thanet Council.

“We look forward to bringing to fruition this important project which will create thousands of jobs.”

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