War of words continues as planning chiefs refuse change of use of buildings at Manston airport

PUBLISHED: 10:17 14 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:17 14 July 2017



Copyright © Ian Pollen

Stone Hill Park insists it does not affect its plans to deliver 2,500 homes and leisure facilites on the site

Plans to change the use of four buildings on the former Manston airport site were this week rejected.

Bosses at site owners Stone Hill Park, which aims to deliver 2,500 homes and leisure facilities, while insisting the area’s history and heritage will be respected and maintained, applied to change the use of the buildings from aviation use only.

However, inspector Matthew Nunn concluded that “the proposals would conflict with the council’s current approach to the location of new development within the airport, which is consistent with national policy”.

He added: “The benefits of the scheme put forward by the appellants do not justify departure from Policy EC4 of the Local Plan.”

While it comes as a boost for campaigners working to re-open the airport, including RiverOak Strategic Partners, which is currently consulting with the public on its plans to submit an application for a development consent order (DCO) of the land, SHP chiefs insist the decision by the Planning Inspectorate does not affect the progress of its proposals.

A planning application has already been submitted and is expected to be heard by Thanet District Council later this year.

RSP claims its own plans for aviation could create up to 30,000 jobs but there have been concerns after bosses admitted there would be some night flights.

Spokesman Ray Mallon said: “Stone Hill Park has been informed by the Planning Inspectorate that our appeal for the change of use of four buildings on the site has been refused.

“We believed the case put forward at the planning inquiry was compelling and I am somewhat surprised at the decision, as approval would have brought an immediate jobs boost to the area.

“Thanet District Council withdrew its original objections and a decision in our favour would not have compromised the possibility of a development consent order being brought forward by RSP.

“It is therefore a mystery to me as to why the Planning Inspectorate has reached this decision, which in my opinion is flawed and an error of judgement on the part of the inspector concerned.

“The quicker RSP submit their DCO application the better, so that their plans can be exposed to full public scrutiny and be shown for what they are.

“I am convinced that we will blow any DCO application out of the water, due to the aviation plans by RSP having little basis in fact or foundation and look forward to putting this whole subject to bed once and for all.

“We own the site, we are experienced in physical regeneration and more importantly we have the money in the bank now to deliver our plans.”

An RSP spokesperson said: “RiverOak Strategic Partners is delighted that the inspector has dismissed Stone Hill Park’s appeals for the change of use of four airport buildings.

“We presented a compelling case for Manston airport, to the inspector, which emphasised the flawed nature of Stone Hill Park’s assertions that Manston had no prospect of returning to airport use and the equally flawed assumptions behind the Avia Solutions report commissioned by Thanet Council.

“RiverOak remains certain that Manston has a vibrant future as an airport and we intend to make sure it delivers on its full economic and employment potential for the east Kent region, by securing a DCO to reopen it as a vibrant hub for air freight, passenger and general aviation use.”

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