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Planning blueprint’s airport ‘optimism’

Manston could still have a future as an airport — according to a planning masterplan published by Thanet council. While the council recently decided against an attempt to compulsory purchase the site, a new report appears to keep the door open to the prospect of it being revived as an airport. The council has published a 15-year strategic blueprint for the area, setting out key policies on issues such as housing development, economic regeneration and the environment up until 2031. A section devoted to Manston says there is a “fresh opportunity to review the viability of an operational airport at Manston and to consider future options for the vast area of land around the airport”. It adds:

“It is considered a successful airport has the potential to be a significant catalyst for economic growth.”

The 260-page draft plan is out for consultation and planners say adopting a specific policy around Manston will safeguard it from attempts by developers to use it for other purposes, notably housing. It says the council will take account of any new feasibility studies for its future as an airport. That would allow the American consortium RiverOak to submit a further bid to resurrect it. Cllr Richard Nicholson (Lab), deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for planning, said:

“We have identified spaces for 12,000 homes over the area but there is no space whatsoever for Manston.”

He added:

“It is still identified as an airport. However, we have to recognise the site has been bought and sold several times and is privately owned. The one reason we don’t want to delay the local plan is because once it has been submitted, it gives a level of protection to the whole area. Without it, any space no matter what it is — could come under threat from potential development.”

The site was recently acquired by regeneration specialists Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave after it was sold by previous owner Ann Gloag. They say they want to redevelop it as a business park. Consultation on the draft plan continues until March 6. Once a final version is adopted, it will have to be submitted to the government for approval. To comment, go to consult.thanet.gov.uk

Herne Bay Gazette, January 15th 2015

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