Manston sale: what’s the way ahead now?

Manston: new owner awaits verdict on its DCO application

Manston airport: the very name raises more than the odd eyebrow and elicits any number of sighs, but this month’s twist in a seemingly never-ending story caught out just about everyone.
Just as the Planning Inspectorate’s examination into its application for a Development Consent Order was nearing its end, RiverOak Strategic Partners agreed to buy the airport site for £16.5 million from Stone Hill Park Ltd, which had its own plans to build some 4,000 homes, business units and sporting facilities there.
Three representatives from CPRE Kent (director Hilary Newport, Thanet chairman David Morrish and environment committee member Chris Lowe) had been present at various stages of the inquiry, which was led by a four-strong Examining Authority.
The Planning Inspectorate gave public notice that it had completed its examination on Tuesday, July 9, confirming that its findings, conclusions and recommendations would be sent to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, no later than Wednesday, October 9.
Mr Shapps will then decide whether the airport scheme should be regarded as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project and a Development Consent Order approved; it is unlikely that the recommendations of the Examining Authority will be made public until after that decision is made.
Contracts were exchanged between RSP and SHP on Wednesday, July 3, but the deal could only be completed a week later (July 10) once permission had been given by then-Secretary of State Chris Grayling.
That permission was necessary due to a Special Development Order designating Manston’s use as a lorry park to cope with potential post-Brexit congestion at Dover – the contract for that runs until December 31, 2020.
SHP has withdrawn its objection to the DCO and will no longer take part in the Local Plan inquiry. However, it keeps its DfT contract (and payments) in relation to the Brexit lorry-park plan, while it will be responsible for providing equipment should HGVs need to use the site.
The deal leaves RSP subsidiary RiverOak MSE owning more than 95 per cent of the site required for its airport plans; the compulsory-purchase provisions of the DCO are now not essential for the reopening of the airport.
SHP reportedly owned 742 acres of the 770-acre site, with some plots belonging to other parties.
Mr Morrish, of Thanet CPRE, said: “These events have emphasised the need for Manston to be resolved before the draft Local Plan can be properly considered – a view that we at CPRE have consistently put forward.
“Manston airport has been the elephant in the room throughout the Local Plan inquiry and there is still no real point in the Local Plan deliberations continuing until the Secretary of State for Transport has made a binding decision on the DCO.”
It is understood that RSP will only be able to progress its airport plans if the Transport Secretary approves the DCO application, a Planning Inspectorate spokesman telling KentOnline: “In order to construct and operate a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, development consent is required in the form of a Development Consent Order.”

Monday, July 29, 2019

Thanet, child poverty and staggering hikes in house prices… what a mess!

Margate has seen house prices soar by 55 per cent over the past 10 years

We are indebted to the local media for two stories highlighting some of the many issues affecting Thanet.
The district is usually at the wrong end of socio-economic statistics, so it comes as no surprise to learn it has the highest proportion of children living in poverty in the county, even taking into account a 4 per cent fall on the previous year (2017-18).
The figure of 35 per cent equates to a staggering one child in three (some 11,500) living below the breadline in Thanet, the Kent Messenger Group reports.
This compares with a Kent average of 28 per cent and figures from the ‘right’ end of the table: Tunbridge Wells (22 per cent) and Sevenoaks (23 per cent).
Now consider the issue of rising property prices in Thanet – indeed the entire Kent coast, where it costs an average of £150,000 more to buy a home than it did 10 years ago.
House prices across Thanet rose by an average of 48 per cent over the past decade; in apparently trendy Margate, the hike was 55 per cent, from £151,520 to £235,012.
The spiralling increase is, of course, fired largely by London and puts the prospect of local people buying their first home ever-further out of reach.
It is against such a backdrop that the government’s much-criticised housing methodology is anticipated to produce an Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) of 17,140 new homes in Thanet between 2016 and 2031.
It is a number that is highly unlikely to be fulfilled; in the region of 8,500 homes were built in the past 20 years, so the rate would need to more than double for the OAN to be achieved.
And when such a shortfall occurs, a local authority is unable to demonstrate a five-year housing supply, leaving the door wide open for speculative developers to try their luck at just about anything, no matter how inappropriate or undesirable.
There is a growing belief among some commentators that the ludicrous housing targets being imposed on some (but by no means all) local authorities are designed to do just that: effectively put planning powers in the hands of developers. Or is that a conspiracy theory too far?
CPRE Kent has long advocated the building of social housing for local people, highlighting the fact that developers’ keenness to put up four- and five-bedroom houses at prices beyond the wildest dreams of many is going to do precious little to ease the much-reported ‘housing crisis’.
Thanet residents concerned at the manner in which property prices are being skewed are often told of the ‘trickle-down effect’: the notion that an influx of cash-rich newcomers shares the posterity far and wide.
The idea would in truth seem to hold little truth, at least if those child poverty figures are anything to go by.

  • The saga of Thanet planning rarely makes uplifting reading, but for more see here, here, here, here and here

Monday, June 10, 2019

Thanet goes big in its approval of greenfield development

Plans for Westwood Village were approved in February (pic Greenacre (Thanet))

Some of our Thanet readers might already be delighted by the decision to approve plans for the 900-home Westwood Village. After all, the substantial loss of farmland combined with potential traffic gridlock should be enough to gladden the stoniest of hearts.
Such joy can surely only be heightened by the news that the scheme is one of the largest to have been approved across the entire country this year.
Planning magazine has listed the largest planning consents to be granted during the first six months of 2019 – and Westwood Village, which lies essentially at the joining point of Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs – comes in at an impressive sixth place.
The plans, from Greenacre (Thanet) Ltd, were approved, with conditions, by Thanet District Council’s planning committee on Tuesday, February 26. The final agreement, incorporating legal provisions, will be concluded by officers.
As well as the 900 homes (of which 30 per cent are scheduled to be ‘affordable’), Westwood Village will include a 4,900 square-metre commercial centre, a local centre and a primary school.
As for what all those new households are going to do for work, answers on a postcard, please…
PS: The largest application to be approved in the Planning survey?
The intriguingly named Margarine Works development in Southall, west London, incorporating more than 2,000 homes, up to 10,076 sq m of flexible office/community space and 2,688 sq m of flexible retail space.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Government chooses not to take over Thanet Local Plan: was this the ‘easy way out’?

Thanet… what next?

Heard the one about Thanet District Council’s Local Plan?
Of course you have.
Well, there’s more…
This comitragic tale has been well covered (see herehere, herehere and here), so it will suffice for now to say that it is back in the news.
Eventually approved in July last year, the draft Plan is now in the phase leading up to the Examination in Public, scheduled to begin in April.
Despite this, the council has been slated by James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, over its lack of progress and failure to deliver new housing. Mr Brokenshire has, however, stopped short of direct intervention, saying only that the situation would be “closely monitored”.
Mr Brokenshire’s predecessor, Sajid Javid, had threatened to take over production of the isle’s Local Plan, along with those of Castle Point in Essex and Wirral in north-west England.
Writing to Bob Bayford, leader of the council, he said: “Thanet have consistently failed to bring forward a Local Plan in accordance with its Local Development Scheme as legally required.
“Based on Thanet’s revised Local Development Scheme, it is unlikely that Local Plan production would be accelerated by my department taking over.
“In my judgement, given the authority’s track record of persistent failure in plan-making, the intervention I have decided upon will provide more certainty and is the best way of ensuring that a Local Plan will be produced.
“I am also, for the avoidance of doubt, now putting on public record my concerns about the low level of housing supply and delivery in Thanet.
“I expect planning decision-takers to have regard to these concerns as a material consideration when deciding local planning applications.”
Critically, at least as far as the local authority is concerned, Mr Brokenshire concludes: “I have decided not to prepare the Thanet Local Plan. However, I will continue to closely monitor your Local Plan progress.
“I appreciate the constructive way Thanet District Council have engaged in this process so far and I trust that you and your officers will continue to engage positively.”
Commenting on a situation in which no one seems very happy, David Morrish, chairman of Thanet CPRE, said: “The government’s Housing Delivery Test 2018 shows that from the years 2016-18 Thanet had a new-homes delivery rate of just 44% of target.
“The only thing the table demonstrates is that the calculation of housing for Thanet is completely ridiculous and that a housing projection of around 8,000 – back where we started in 2014 – is what the Thanet requirement should be. Such a target could be accomplished without using valuable Grade 1A agricultural land.
“When will Mr Brokenshire realise that a flawed model is being applied that is of no help to anyone whatsoever?
“The government targets are derived using an algorithm to develop targets for each council based on government policies but take no account of the deprivation and lack of jobs and employment prospects in an area.
“The houses that have been built in Thanet are in large part attributable to development at Westwood Cross. It is rumoured persistently that this is being earmarked for social-housing tenants moving in from London, yet Thanet people find it next to impossible to find social housing themselves.
“If nothing else, Thanet council needs to clarify the situation to help calm local disquiet.
“Also, Thanet has the highest proportion of empty homes in Kent but makes no attempt to bring some of them into use to house its homeless.
“I think it is probable that Mr Brokenshire’s Chief Planner realised, after taking a close look at the shambles of Thanet’s poorly-thought-out planning regime that has placed all the power in developers’ hands, that it is not something  anyone with any sense would want to take direct responsibility for sorting out.
“Instead, he has taken the easy way out by letting the two Local Plan inspectors carry on with their invidious task of inspecting in detail the existing mess of the draft Local Plan, neatly wrapped up in 4,000 pages of planning speak on the Thanet council website.
“This inspection begins in Ramsgate in April, with public hearings in May, while  another, separate, quartet of inspectors based in Margate are already grappling with 5,000-plus pages of evidence relating to Manston airport, with public hearings in March and a conclusion in July.
“Never, as far as we are aware, will the two sets of inspectors meet formally, and by the middle of this year two different ministers – Mr Brokenshire and Chris Ayling, Secretary of State for Transport, will be given the two different reports upon which to make their own individual decisions.
“It would test the patience of a saint and the genius of an Einstein to unravel this muddle.
“What is certain about this farrago is that the only winners will be the developers, who will continue to receive licences to build wherever they want in Thanet at the current leisurely speed, further increasing pressure on strained public services and with the community having as much certainty of the public costs being paid for by developers – as happens elsewhere in Kent – as a philosophy student at McDonald’s has of paying off their student loan.”

Monday, February 25, 2019

How demand for second homes in Thanet highlights flawed housing policy

The much-heralded revival of Margate has helped increase demand for second homes in Thanet

The ridiculous housebuilding targets imposed by Whitehall on our local authorities have been well charted, but few places highlight some of the inherent issues as much as Thanet.
Always something of a law unto itself, the district suffers a low-income, low-skills economy, with socio-economic stats that compare to the worst in the country, let alone the South East.
Alongside this, however, are property prices that, while still low in a regional context, are in truth eye-wateringly high. Many local people are not able to even consider buying a home.
This, of course, is presented by the government as a central tenet of its increased housing targets; it is saying house prices are too high for local people so we must build more.
It’s a simplistic argument that might be better suited to a school playground than the national political arena: houses are not tins of baked beans and simply putting up more of them is not going to bring a fall in prices.
A range of variable factors determines house prices.
Of course, in Kent one of those is proximity to London (another law unto itself, indeed almost another country in some regards).
Much of this county (widely regarded as the poor sister of the South East) has similar issues to Thanet, if to a lesser degree, in that local wages are never going to compete with those of London.
Even allowing for workers who commute to the capital for employment, too many Kent residents are priced out of housing by incoming Londoners. Building more houses isn’t going to affect prices if they’re simply going to be bought by people from the capital.
In Thanet, the situation is exacerbated by the number of properties bought as second homes.
Staggeringly, HM Revenues and Customs figures reveal that in 2017-18 more than a quarter (28 per cent) of residential properties bought in Thanet were procured as second homes.
The second-highest figure came from Canterbury, at 24 per cent, followed by Dover and Folkestone & Hythe (each 22 per cent). The least-affected district was Tonbridge & Malling at 15 per cent.
Increased stamp duty was expected to reduce the demand for second homes, but instead Kent saw a rise of 16 per cent in their purchase from 1916-17.
Most South East local authorities will struggle to meet their housebuilding targets, which in itself will herald a tranche of other issues, but it is clear that housing policy and its attendant methodology are missing the target when it comes to providing local homes for local people.
Second-home purchase is just one factor in that mismatch.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Thousands respond to Manston airport inquiry

Manston… so many questions

A four-strong Examining Authority will be considering more than 2,000 representations made in response to the bid to reopen the Manston airport site as a freight hub.
Following the Planning Inspectorate’s decision to consider RiverOak Strategic Partners’ case for reopening the airport through a Development Consent Order, the latest stage in one of the most contentious – and long-running – planning issues in Kent has drawn a predictably strong response.
If the panel determines that Manston should be regarded as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, the Secretary of State for Transport can grant seizure of the site.
One of the respondents is site owner Stone Hill Park Ltd, which has contrasting plans to build some 4,000 homes, business units and sporting facilities there.
Those who have registered with the Planning Inspectorate are known as Interested Parties and will be asked to a meeting, run and chaired by the Examining Authority.
This part of the process is expected to last about three months, after which the Planning Inspectorate has six months to carry out its examination.
Interested Parties will be asked to give further written details of their views during this time, while there might be public hearings.
When all that is concluded, within the next three months the Planning Inspectorate must prepare a report and recommendation for the Secretary of State, who then himself has three months to decide on the application.
Finally, there is a six-month period when that decision can be challenged in the High Court.
Meanwhile, a question to the leader of Thanet District Council about whether the local authority had produced either a Statement of Common Ground, detailing agreements and disagreements pertinent to the case, or a local impact report drew a non-committal answer.
The leader said only that the council “was engaging” with RiverOak Strategic Partners.
Thanet CPRE has chosen not to give a view on the airport as feelings on the subject are so mixed.

  • For more on Manston, see here, here and here
  • For CPRE Kent’s response to RSP’s Manston Consultation last year, see here

Monday, December 24, 2018

Don’t forget, now is the time to comment on the Thanet Local Plan

What future for the Isle of Thanet?

We have covered the tortuous tale of Thanet District Council’s draft Local Plan with some intensity over recent months, so we’ll keep this reminder brief…
You have some five weeks to view and comment on the draft Plan, which was approved by the council in July and is intended to provide the isle’s planning blueprint until 2031.
This ‘pre-submission stage’ began on Thursday, August 23, and ends at 5pm on Thursday, October 4, with comments received going straight to the planning inspector; respondents might be then invited to speak at the Plan’s Examination in Public.
To view the Local Plan and make comments, visit here

It is also available at The Gateway in Margate, Pierremont Hall in Broadstairs, Custom House in Ramsgate and in any public library in the district.

For (a lot of) background on the Thanet Local Plan, visit herehere, herehere and here

Friday, August 31, 2018

Curiouser and curiouser… why would anyone back this Thanet Parkway plan?

Early impressions of a Thanet Parkway station

The case for a Thanet Parkway railway station near Ramsgate seems ever weaker.
Details have been published of a damning government rejection of Kent County Council’s bid to win funding for the project.
KCC had put in a planning application for a site off Hengist Way, close to the Ramsgate-Ashford railway line, with the intention that a new station would open in 2021.
The project had been costed at £11 million, but local media outlets have reported that this figure has almost doubled.
KCC’s application for an £8.7 million grant was rejected last year by the Department for Transport, but a statement secured by Broadstairs man Ian Driver might make some wonder why such a project is even being considered.
“The panel considered that the proposal was not yet developed enough to support at this time as the project was still only at the GRIP [Guide to Rail Investment Process] stage one,” says the DfT statement.
“There were also concerns that the project would require extensive infrastructure work to allow the service to operate as planned, that no funding had been identified to cover the additional cost of this extensive infrastructure work, and that the new station would have a detrimental impact on the existing timetable.”
And the positives?
In truth, none seem immediately apparent, at least as far as the DfT is concerned.
“In particular, the panel was concerned that accommodating an additional stop at Thanet Parkway would add two minutes to the journey on the line between Ashford and Ramsgate,” says the statement.
“This means that Ramsgate and Margate would benefit from net improvements of only one minute, rather than three minutes as planned in the current journey time improvement scheme.
“In addition, the panel noted that building a new station would require Network Rail to redevelop a nearby level crossing, but that there were no proposals in the business case on how to cover the costs of this.”
Despite such a crushing critique of the project, KCC reportedly still plans to push ahead with its parkway plans.
These stretch back some years. In December 2010, the county council unveiled its Growth without Gridlock strategy, leader Paul Carter saying:
“A Thanet Parkway station would support economic growth in Thanet and accelerate development of Kent International Airport at Manston, while improved line speeds between Ashford and Ramsgate would benefit all local rail users.
“With an estimated 1,000 new jobs generated per million new air passengers, these improvements would help create 6,000 jobs by 2033.”
The uncertain status of the airport – the development of which was supported financially by KCC before it changed tack and backed Stone Hill Park Ltd’s plans for 4,000 homes at Manston – together with the fact that, far from improving line speeds between Ashford and Ramsgate, a Thanet Parkway station would in fact increase them makes Cllr Carter’s trumpeting of the project seem puzzling.
And that’s before we even consider those, at best dubious, job figures…
Thanet CPRE chairman David Morrish has already given his opinion on the idea.
“We believe that a decision on the parkway station shouldn’t be made until the situation at the Manston airport site is clarified. It was, after all, initially proposed that a parkway station would serve an expanded airport.
“There are widespread fears that it would result in the closing of nearby Minster station, while the idea of encouraging people to travel across Thanet to a new station rather than using their existing stations of Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate – with all the issues of traffic congestion that would entail – is bizarre.
“There needs to be a full study on the impact on local transport, which is likely to suffer as a result of this, while are we sure there is enough capacity on the trains to take extra people to London, as is intended?
“Further, we thought that the protection of our farmland was moving up the agenda in the light of the great changes that lie ahead. This station would of course result in a substantial loss of high-quality farmland.”

For more on this story, see here

Friday, August 31, 2018

Manston… airport DCO will be considered

Will planes be landing at Manston again? (pic Hamza Butt)

The Manston airport site might just have a future in aviation after all.
The latest phase of this long-running saga has seen the Planning Inspectorate agree to consider the case for the airport reopening through a Development Consent Order.
This will determine whether it should be regarded as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, paving the way for the Secretary of State for Transport to grant seizure of the site.
Sarah Richards, Planning Inspectorate chief executive, said. “After careful consideration we have decided on behalf of the Secretary of State that the application submitted by RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd met the required tests set out in the legislation to be accepted for examination”.
RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) proposes to establish the airport as a freight hub, but site owner Stone Hill Park Ltd has its own plans to build some 4,000 homes, business units and sporting facilities there.
RSP had to resubmit its DCO application after an earlier bid was rebuffed by the Planning Inspectorate, which wanted more details on funding.
Now the application has been accepted, there will be an inquiry.
The public and other interested parties can register with the Planning Inspectorate as an Interested Party; to do this, a written ‘relevant representation’ must be made, giving the individual’s or party’s views.
The Interested Parties will then be asked to a meeting, run and chaired by an appointed Examining Authority.
This part of the process would be expected to last some three months, after which the Planning Inspectorate has six months to carry out its examination. Interested Parties will be asked to give further written details of their views during this time, while there might be public hearings.
When all that is concluded, within the next three months the Planning Inspectorate must prepare a report and recommendation for the Secretary of State, who then himself has three months to decide on the application.
Finally, there is a six-month period when that decision can be challenged in the High Court.
Thanet CPRE has chosen not to give a view on the airport as feelings on the subject are so mixed.

For more on the tale of Manston, see here and here

For CPRE Kent’s response to RSP’s Manston Consultation last year, see here

Friday, August 31, 2018

Dr David Neden: a tribute to a CPRE champion

Dr David Neden fought tirelessly for Pegwell Bay and the surrounding area

Dr David Neden, once one of the most active members of the Thanet district group of CPRE Kent and a co-founder of the Pegwell & District Association, has died.
His passing, on Friday, July 20, means east Kent bids farewell to one of the most passionate and determined campaigners for the natural environment in our area.
Dr Neden was born in Carshalton (then Surrey, now London) in January 1929 and went to school in nearby Sutton, gaining Higher Certificates in zoology, botany, physics and chemistry before heading to University College London and then University College Hospital medical school.
Eighteen months of house jobs at medical school preceded two years’ National Service, from 1954-55, which he saw out as a doctor in the Royal Navy.
Two more hospital jobs followed before Dr Neden became a general practice trainee in Middlesex. Just a few months later, however, in late 1957, he took a job as a GP at the Grange Road surgery in Ramsgate, where he was to stay until retirement in 2005.
Moving with him to Thanet was wife Irene, the pair having married during Dr Neden’s spell in Middlesex; they had met during his time at medical school.
Settled happily in Ramsgate, the couple brought up their children Sarah, John (himself a GP in Ramsgate today) and Andrew.
Although his last home was in Grange Road, Dr Neden had lived for many years on the West Cliff with Irene, who passed away in 2009.
Dr Neden had enjoyed a strong Christian faith since his school days and was a regular at Christ Church Ramsgate and a trustee of the Sailors Church by the harbour.
Moving to Thanet sparked an interest in the natural environment and this formed the bedrock of his involvement in the creation of the Pegwell & District Association in April 1987.
This had been prompted by a London developer’s plans to run a railway line through the Pegwell cliffs, along the West Cliff foreshore to Ramsgate harbour.
The battle against the scheme was won, although eventually, after further proposals and public inquiries, a publicly-funded tunnel and road to the harbour were built.
Reflecting many years later on the outcome, Dr Neden had said: “The amazing irony was that the very day the road opened, the ferry company Sally, which was operating out of Ramsgate, went bust.”
He also drew a typically positive outcome from what had happened: “The tunnel, I suppose, was the best of a bad job.”
Both Dr Neden (he only stepped down from the committee last year) and Irene carried on their work for the Pegwell association, while they were active members of the Thanet district group of CPRE Kent.
The Pegwell association flourished to the point that at one time it had some 230 members on board, with a healthy social scene that included parties and a range of outings to places outside the area.
Asked what he considered to be the association’s greatest achievement, Dr Neden had said: “We added to the opposition to unseemly development and have continued to be alert. And we have made friends out of it.”

  • Dr David Arthur John Neden died on Friday, July 20, 2018. He leaves daughter Sarah and sons John and Andrew. There will be a thanksgiving service at 11am on Thursday, August 30, at Christ Church Ramsgate. It is asked that donations in lieu of flowers go to Pilgrims Hospices c/o HR Palmer, Funeral Directors, 30 Hardres Street, Ramsgate CT11 8QF.

 

Thanet’s draft Local Plan to go to public consultation

Yes, the question of Manston still dominates…

Thanet is a step closer to having a Local Plan.
After months of political posturing and squabbling, including the rejection of an earlier version, district councillors voted on Thursday evening (July 19) to recommend the draft Plan go to public consultation.
The full council’s backing, by 31 votes to 21, of ‘Option 2’ for the Plan represents a decision, certainly, but a large degree of uncertainty still clouds the way forward.

After the public consultation, the Plan will go back to the council, which will decide on any amendments before submitting it to an inspector for the Examination in Public.
A main sticking point had been the status of the Manston airport site, but last night’s decision, which went against the recommendation of officers, sees it retained for aviation use, at least in the short term.
That means the 2,500 homes that had been earmarked for Manston in the earlier – and subsequently rejected – draft Plan will now be redistributed elsewhere across the isle:
Westgate-on-Sea (1,000 homes)
Birchington (600)
Westwood (500)
Hartsdown (300)
Tothill Street, Minster (100)
The total housing target is 17,140 new homes up to 2031.
The decision to recommend the Plan comes against the backdrop of potential airport operator RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) having submitted a revised application for a Development Consent Order (DCO), which could force site owner Stone Hill Park Ltd to surrender it if it is classified a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).
As for Stone Hill Park, the company has lodged a planning application for a mixed-use project at Manston that includes 3,700 new homes.
Further, the council’s Local Plan process is ‘in intervention’, with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government having stepped in to ensure the local authority finally delivers its Local Plan. It is unclear to what extent the ministry drove the latest proposals, or indeed to what degree it will be involved from here.
There were two amendments to the draft, resulting from the earlier meeting of the executive, policy and community safety scrutiny panel:

  • The 2,500 homes reallocated from Manton would be phased towards the second half of the Plan period, which ends in 2031.
  • The status of the Manston site would be reviewed after a minimum of two years if a DCO or compulsory purchase of the land had not been agreed by that date.

What are we to make of it all?
Geoff Orton, secretary of Thanet CPRE, said: “It’s common sense that you can’t develop a coherent Local Plan for Thanet without the future of Manston having been decided, so we can only wait on that one.
“The county council document Growth without Gridlock puts emphasis on Manston as the economic driver for east Kent, so it is difficult to see how the employment needs of Thanet and beyond will be met without the airport, especially considering the potential arrival of thousands of new households.
“Even if we do get an airport and it produces 10,000 jobs, they are unlikely to offset the job losses predicted to be caused by technological change – a possible 15,000 in Thanet.
“As for the housing, what developer is going to invest in houses that won’t get sold? And who are those houses targeted for anyway?”
The public consultation is due to run from Thursday, August 23, to Thursday, October 4. Any comments must be submitted during that period as earlier submissions will not be considered.
These, together with the (possibly amended) draft Plan will then go to the inspector for the Examination in Public, with public hearings expected to start in February next year.

Friday, July 7, 2018

For more, visit here, herehere and here

The debacle that is passing for planning in Thanet… the next step

Thanet… a great place to live but for how much longer?

The troubled, if not farcical, saga of the Thanet draft Local Plan is expected to make progress of a kind tonight (Wednesday, July 11, 2017) when it goes before the district council’s executive, policy and community safety scrutiny panel.
This latest stage follows last week’s adoption by the council cabinet of an option that could see the Manston airport site retained for aviation and more than 17,000 homes built on the isle by 2031.
The news came as no great surprise as the other option had been rejected by the council in January, a move that saw the UKIP administration subsequently lose control of the local authority.
That first option had allocated Manston for mixed-use development and 2,500 homes, sparking further conflict between those who wanted to see the return of an airport and those who believed commercial aviation was a not a viable concern there.
Last week’s cabinet decision, made on Monday, July 2, went against the recommendation of officers and means that the 2,500 homes that had been earmarked for the airport site in the original Plan will now be redistributed elsewhere across the isle.
As things stand, the extra homes are likely to be targeted for:
Westgate-on-Sea (1,000)
Birchington (600)
Westwood (500)
Hartsdown (300)
Tothill Street, Minster (100)

The cabinet decision will be welcomed by potential airport operator RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) as it proceeds with its application for a Development Consent Order, which could force the owner of the site, Stone Hill Park Ltd,  to surrender it if it is classified a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).
To confuse matters just a little further, Stone Hill Park has lodged a planning application for a mixed-use project at Manston that now includes 3,700 new homes.
So what happens if the DCO application fails… will the housing allocation return to Manston?
Or – and here’s where it could all get even uglier – will Manston be built upon, in addition to the alternative sites that have been put forward?
And will the final housing target end at 17,000, or will new (and widely derided) government methodology push the figure north of a frankly ridiculous 20,000?
Then, of course, there’s the little matter of central government having threatened the council with losing control over its own Local Plan if it doesn’t get it published… and soon.
Shambles? The word doesn’t come close…

For more on this story, if you can bear it, click herehere and here
Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Thanet: a draft Local Plan could soon be upon us

Manston: at the core of the Thanet debate

So, after all the political game-playing and the sometimes shambolic manner in which Thanet’s planning process has been tackled, it is believed tonight (Monday, July 2) will see the adoption of the district council’s draft Local Plan.
Members of the Thanet District Council cabinet are expected to approve the isle’s planning blueprint for the next 20 years, the most high-profile element seeing the Manston airport site retained for aviation use, which apparently necessitates a further 2,500 homes being built elsewhere on the isle rather than at Manston.
The cabinet’s recommendations will be reviewed by the executive, policy and community safety scrutiny panel before going to full council on Thursday, July 19, for a final verdict.
In January, councillors rejected the draft Local Plan put forward by the UKIP administration, which subsequently lost control of the council. The main bone of contention was a proposed change of status for Manston from aviation-only to ‘mixed use’, including 2,500 homes, while there was also concern over proposed housing numbers.
Following the rejection of that draft, Sajid Javid, then-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – frustrated with the local authority’s “persistent failure” to produce its Plan – wrote to council leader Bob Bayford, announcing he would be sending Chief Planner Steve Quartermain to intervene.
A fresh call for housing sites was made by the district council. Now ‘in intervention’, it must publish a new Local Plan or face possible further intervention by government.
Council officers have reportedly presented two options for consideration by the cabinet: the draft that was rejected in January and another that keeps an aviation-only policy for Manston and reallocates the 2,500 homes from there elsewhere on the isle.
The local authority says this will allow an application by potential airport operator RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) for a Development Consent Order to proceed.
This was submitted in April but withdrawn the following month because of Planning Inspectorate concerns. RSP says it will be resubmitted in due course.
If the second option is accepted by cabinet, the extra homes – which are in addition to the numbers already proposed for those areas – are expected to be targeted for:
Westgate-on-Sea (1,000)
Birchington (600)
Westwood (500)
Hartsdown (300)
Tothill Street, Minster (100)

The isle already faces a target of 17,140 new homes by 2031, but revised government methodology suggests this figure could rise to 20,200.
It is a monstrous figure that would entail the loss of a vast amount of greenfield land (Thanet is already the second most urbanised district in Kent), while it is anybody’s guess what the incoming thousands will be expected to do for employment.
Perhaps best not think about it…

Monday, July 2, 2018

To read more on this lengthy tale, click here and here

County council puts in planning application for Thanet Parkway station

Early impressions of a Thanet Parkway station

Thanet CPRE has given a cool response to news that the county council has put in a planning application for a Thanet Parkway station near Ramsgate.
It is planned for a site off Hengist Way, close to the Ramsgate-Ashford railway line, and intended to open in 2021.
An initial application had been expected last year, but amendments to junction design and pedestrian and cycle access delayed it.
The project had been costed at £11 million, but this figure, The Isle of Thanet News reports, has almost doubled according to new estimates.
The plan is to cut journey times between Ramsgate and London Stratford International station to about an hour, a reduction of some 15 minutes on the current shortest time between the town and the capital.
A Kent County Council spokesman is reported as saying: “An application for the proposed Thanet Parkway station was submitted last week.
“It will go through a period of validation and, once this is completed, people will be able to view and comment on the Kent.gov.uk planning site.
“Once validated, we will also notify all residents who requested updates on the project at the public consultation held last year.
“All residents affected by or in the immediate vicinity of the proposals will be contacted as part of the planning process as a matter of course.”
However, Thanet CPRE chairman David Morrish was less than impressed by the plan.
“We believe that a decision on the parkway station shouldn’t be made until the situation at the Manston airport site is clarified. It was, after all, initially proposed that a parkway station would serve an expanded airport.
“There are widespread fears that it would result in the closing of nearby Minster station, while the idea of encouraging people to travel across Thanet to a new station rather than using their existing stations of Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate – with all the issues of traffic congestion that would entail – is bizarre.
“There needs to be a full study on the impact on local transport, which is likely to suffer as a result of this, while are we sure there is enough capacity on the trains to take extra people to London, as is intended?
“Further, we thought that the protection of our farmland was moving up the agenda in the light of the great changes that lie ahead. This station would of course result in a substantial loss of high-quality farmland.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Thanet and its Local Plan… where are we now?

Manston has hogged the Thanet headlines for so long… perhaps too long?

We have reported the machinations of Thanet and its Local Plan before on this website – and the tale is set to develop as district councillors prepare for the latest stage in this lengthy saga.
To remind you of the backdrop, in January Thanet district councillors voted down the draft Local Plan that had been presented to them, the future of Manston airport the most high-profile issue contained within it.
The council’s cabinet had earlier approved the draft Plan, which included an allocation of 2,500 properties at Manston; this appeared to be endorsement of site owner Stone Hill Park Ltd’s plans to build 2,500 homes (a figure that could rise to 4,000), business units and sporting facilities there.
However, January’s vote by the full council saw that draft Plan rejected.
Divisive an issue as Manston is, many saw the voting as politically motivated and indeed the leader of the council, UKIP’s Chris Wells, stepped down from his role the following month, Conservative Bob Bayford subsequently taking over as leader of a minority administration.
No sooner had this unfolded than, in March, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – frustrated with the local authority’s “persistent failure” to produce its Plan – wrote to Cllr Bayford, announcing he would be sending Chief Planner Steve Quartermain to the isle to intervene.
It is understood that two government planners have been left effectively in situ to ensure the Plan is finally published. In other words, the government has taken over production of the Thanet Local Plan from the district council.
This month councillors will receive a set of papers briefing them on the forthcoming adoption of the Plan, which will map out the isle’s development until 2031 and is due to be published this summer.
There is uncertainty over how matters will proceed from here and to what degree Thanet councillors will have any say in the Plan’s adoption. Indeed, how much public consultation will there be?
What we do know, in a situation that still seems very from clear, at least to the wider public, is that the council has put together three options for the Manston site in the Plan:

  • Manston is designated for aviation use, with 2,500 homes allocated for other sites in Thanet. It is understood these are Westgate (1,000 extra homes), Birchington (600), Westwood (500), Hartsdown (300) and Minster (100).
  • A  decision on Manston is deferred by the council for two years, allowing RSP, the group behind plans for a cargo hub airport, to push for a Development Consent Order, which would force Stone Hill Park to hand over the site.
  • Manston would be recognised as appropriate for aviation use, but it would not be designated as such for two years.

Quite what’s going on with the third option might not be readily apparent, but, either way, Thanet CPRE hopes to be involved in the Plan’s development:
“We are looking forward to engaging with the Chief Planner,” said chairman David Morrish. “A lack of public consultation was highlighted by the DCLG earlier this year as a failing in the Thanet process, so we hope that doesn’t repeat itself this time round.
“And with crazily high – and unsustainable – figures of some 21,000 new homes being rumoured, it’s important as many people as possible get involved.”
It is also worth recalling the earlier words of Geoff Orton, Thanet CPRE secretary, in relation to Manston airport: “What would be the point of building 21,000 homes without it. If there’s no airport, what economic future does Thanet have?”
As for those ridiculous housebuilding targets, Mr Orton said: “The official figure of 17,000 was already a hike on the previous 12,000 – now we could be looking at a figure north of 20,000. And all this without the airport?
“Further, we’ve lost the deaf school in Margate, along with two care homes – and more rumoured to be going. And with retail becoming more automated, what are Thanet’s young people going to do for work?”

For more on this saga, see here

For more on the Manston airport site, see here

For CPRE Kent’s response to RSP’s Manston Consultation last year, see here

Wednesday, June 13, 2018