Planning chiefs agree to look at proposal to reopen Manston Airport

UK Government planning chiefs have agreed to look at plans submitted by RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP) to reopen Manston Airport in Kent and turn it into a cargo hub – four years after it closed.

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has accepted an application for a development consent order (DCO) submitted by the consortium which wants to revamp the site and will consider it. A previous application was withdrawn by RSP.

The DCO application makes the consortium’s case to compulsorily acquire the site on the basis that its plan for a cargo hub facility is a “nationally important infrastructure project” and RSP has demonstrated that they have sufficient funds available for the eventual compulsory purchase of the site.

The consortium resubmitted its application to the Planning Inspectorate last month after being told it needed to give more details on where the funding for the scheme would come from. The application will to go through an inquiry before a final decision is made.

The Save Manston Airport association welcomed the new proposal to reopen and develop Manston Airport and said it was “delighted” with the news.

RSP has spent four years and over £7million (by March 2018) in preparing their plans, which the association said it had the potential to bring a vast array of high-quality career jobs for local people and others in East Kent as well as hundreds of millions of pounds in new investment to East Kent.

The group association: “Save Manston Airport association are delighted to see RSP’s application moving forward. There is still further to go in the DCO process but the remaining stages have a legally defined maximum duration – once the application moves on to Phase 4 (Examination) there is a maximum of 12 months for the Secretary of State to make a decision on whether to approve the DCO to reopen Manston Airport.

“We look forward to an announcement in 2019 and once we have the necessary information we will be publishing guidance on how to register with PINS in order to have your say.”

The association said the DCO now enters its third phase, the ‘pre-examination period’ and during the next stage of the process interested parties can for the first time submit views and representations directly for consideration by PINS, as opposed to RSP and there is no fixed timetable for this, it’s up to the developer, but is subject to a minimum of 28 days. On average this pre-examination phase lasts about three months.

Details of the application can be found here.