Published: 19:10, 27 October 2017
The Ukip leader of Thanet council has defended a decision to earmark the former Manston Airport site for potentially thousands of houses.
Cllr Chris Wells said the authority could not afford to defer a decision on what the site should be used for in its Local Plan, saying it risked being told by the government to build hundreds more homes than the district wanted.
The council’s decision to remove it from the draft plan infuriated campaigners who have been fighting to safeguard the site for aviation.
The Ukip-run council has been accused of breaking a pre-election promise to re-open Manston as an airport.
It has also been criticised by River Oak Strategic Partners, the consortium that is trying to acquire the site through a Development Consent Order.
But Mr Wells said the council had to make a decision what the site should be used for.
“We are between a rock and a hard place. We have an obligation to identify a path to delivering a huge number of houses to meet the national target.
"Any further delays to the submission of our Local Plan to the Planning Inspectorate could see the number of homes we’re required to build increase even further, by an additional 3,000 or so.”
He said Thanet was no different to other councils across the county.
“Medway and Maidstone are publicly commenting on their individual stages of the same story.”
Any delay could lead to 300 acres of greenfield land being built on to meet increased housing demand, he added.
Owners of the site Stone Hill Park welcomed the decision to consult on the new version of the Local Plan, which will have to be approved by the government’s planning inspectorate.
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