Thanet Local Plan to Drop Housing Proposal at RAF Manston

Kent Live

The cabinet at Thanet District Council has recommended not to build 2,500 homes on the Manston Airport site – but its future as a functioning airport is not guaranteed.

An extraordinary cabinet meeting was held on Monday evening (June 2) to decide which version of the district’s draft Local Plan to vote through.

The cabinet was joined by council leader Bob Bayford as they made their recommendation.

The council needs to continue to progress the Local Plan process to avoid further intervention from central government – they failed to meet the government’s deadline when the previous draft of the Local Plan was voted down in January 2018.

There were two options to choose from. Firstly, to proceed with publishing or submitting the draft Local Plan as previously submitted on January 18, which included the allocation of Manston Airport for mixed use development.

This was the recommendation of officers.

The other option was to proceed with a plan that did not earmark the airport for mixed use development, with the housing requirement met by other sites.

The cabinet voted to go ahead with option two, which means 2,500 homes originally earmarked for the airport site will now be built across other sites on the Isle:

  • 600 homes in Birchington
  • 1,000 homes in Westgate-on-Sea
  • 500 homes in Westwood
  • 300 homes in Hartsdown, Margate
  • 100 homes in Tothill Street, Minster

Will Manston return to aviation use?

RiverOak Strategic Partners is seeking to re-open Manston Airport after it closed in 2014.

However, the decision to move these 2,500 homes elsewhere has not set Manston Airport’s future in stone.

Two policies written into the original version of the Local Plan to protect aviation use – referred to as SP05 and EC4 – have been removed from the second option which cabinet voted to proceed with.

Monday’s meeting agenda explains: “Draft Policy SP05 (protecting aviation-only use) would be deleted, and replaced with text that recognises the existing use of the airport and acknowledges the current Development Consent Order (DCO) process for the site.

“This also provides the opportunity for any other interested parties to pursue the operational use of the airport through agreement with the landowners or through becoming an indemnity partner as part of a potential CPO process with the council.

“The statement regarding existing use is not a policy statement; it is simply a recognition of the current planning status of the site.

“This also means that current Policy EC4 (and other airport-related policies) would not be continued or replaced with equivalent policies in the new Local Plan.”

A DCO is currently being pursued by Riveroak Strategic Partners. The company withdrew the order in May as part of the planning process and at the time of writing it has yet to be resubmitted.

When will the final Local Plan decision be made?

However, Monday evening’s meeting was not the final decision – the outcome was a recommendation for full council to take into account.

A spokesman for the district council said: “At the meeting, cabinet considered two options, the first of which was the original draft Local Plan that was rejected in January.
“Cabinet recommended that council adopt the second option, which does not seek to change the existing use of Manston as an airport.
“The recommendations from Cabinet will now go the executive, policy and community safety scrutiny panel on Wednesday, July 11 for further consideration, and will then go to council on Thursday, July 19 for a final decision.”
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