Published: 08:38, 18 May 2018
| Updated: 08:40, 18 May 2018
The owners of the former Manston Airport site have agreed a deal for the sale of the first 400 homes on the proposed development.
The team behind what is now known as Stone Hill Park (SHP), has agreed a deal in principle with local housing association Optivo.
However, with the future of the site still hanging in the balance, it is unclear just when - or if - the deal will become a reality.
Earlier this month, the consortium behind a bid to revive the airport "temporarily" withdrew its bid to take control the site.
The RiverOak Partnership took back its application to ministers for what is known as a development consent order (DCO).
The consortium submitted its bid to the Planning Inspectorate in April after a lengthy consultation period. But after being told it had failed to provide insufficient details, any decision as to whether a DCO should be considered, has now been delayed.
Meanwhile, SHP, which wants to turn the site into 3,700 homes along with leisure, retail and commercial zones, and Optivo will work together on a detailed plan for the first phase that will also include a new school and infrastructure to serve the local area.
An outline planning application setting out proposals for the former Manston Airport is currently out for statutory consultation by Thanet District Council, with a decision expected later this year. If approved, the detailed planning application would then follow.
Speaking about the deal Stone Hill Park co-owner, Trevor Cartner, said: “We will be developing a range of homes from affordable to executive and will also build the first school together with much of the infrastructure to serve the site as a whole. We are excited to see our plans becoming a reality.”
This first phase is part of a wider plan to deliver up to 3,700 homes, over a 20-year period.
The site will also include a hi-tech manufacturing park which its owners say will create thousands of local jobs and training opportunities.
The outline planning application, now being considered by Thanet District Council, goes into more detail on these proposals plus other key elements, including aviation heritage attractions, a new country park and leisure facilities, which include Kent’s first Olympic-sized pool.
Neill Tickle, development director of Optivo said: “We appreciate the redevelopment of the Manston Airport site has been a sensitive issue, with strong local feelings and we understand this.
“However, as a local housing association, we’re also aware of the shortage of affordable housing in Thanet, with the local council identifying the need for 17,140 homes in the area by 2031."
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