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Manston airport: Film studio plans ditched by Stone Hill Park developers

By Chris Price

The developers of homes and offices on the former Manston airport have ditched their flagship plans for a film studio on the site, which they said could have been the base for a future Bond movie.

A planning application featuring 2,500 homes on the 800-acre airfield, to be known as Stone Hill Park, was submitted this week and shows no sign of movie-making facilities, which it had been suggested could create up to 2,000 jobs.

Last June, its owners Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave said they had met representatives of a consortium looking for an appropriate site for a new film studio that included digital and animation businesses.

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Manston owner Trevor Cartner said filming a Bond movie at film studios there was "not beyond the realms of possibility"
Manston owner Trevor Cartner said filming a Bond movie at film studios there was "not beyond the realms of possibility"

However, this week their spokesman Ray Mallon confirmed the proposals are “dead in the water”, blaming the delays caused by Thanet council considering a compulsory purchase order (CPO) for the site, which they eventually decided not to pursue.

RiverOak, a US group which tried to buy the site from its former owner Ann Gloag, are preparing a case for a development consent order (DCO) which, if successful, would clear the way for them to reopen the airport as a cargo hub.

Discussions with the film studio had been described last year as at an early stage but Mr Cartner and Mr Musgrave, who also own business estate Discovery Park in Sandwich, were confident it was a serious proposition.

However, Mr Mallon told Kent Business this week it would have taken up too much space, with its developers asking for 200 acres of the overall 800-acre site.

A planning application submitted for Stone Hill Park, the proposed development on the site of the former Manston airport
A planning application submitted for Stone Hill Park, the proposed development on the site of the former Manston airport

He said: “It is dead in the water. It will take too many acres and take too long.

“In addition to that, the would-be occupier of the film studio didn’t have time to lose.

“They could see a lot of toing and froing in relation to the CPO and DCO. It is an example of how the economy can be affected by these shenanigans.

“The studio operator said they couldn’t waste any more time so they are looking for pastures new on other sites.

“In any case, we believe what was required was too many acres. It was an awful lot and we got them down to 100 acres but we wanted to retain the runway and it was going to be too crammed.

“It was ambitious on the acreage we had available.”

Stone Hill Park has already faced embarrassment over the film studio plans when its developers received a letter from lawyers at Pinewood Studios asking them to stop using its images in their PR material, which had been used without consent.

Dr Beau Webber, chairman of the Save Manston Airport Association, which backs RiverOak’s takeover plans, said: “We think they are scratching around for any idea they can.

The former Manston Airport. Picture: Simon Burchett
The former Manston Airport. Picture: Simon Burchett

“What we have heard about these plans is very dubious. The housing they want is high density.

"There are a lot of green spaces but what will happen when they have filled the housing is they will build on that. We are very suspicious of the plans.”

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