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Manston Airport sold for £16.5m to RiverOak

By Paul Francis

The consortium aiming to open Manston Airport as a cargo aviation hub have paid £16.5m to buy the airport site from its former owners.

Stone Hill Park agreed to sell the site to RiverOak Strategic Partners last week.

The figure has been published by the Planning Inspectorate which has been holding an inquiry into RSP’s application for a Development Consent Order on the land. The hearings are due to end this week with a decision on whether to grant the DCO expected in January.

Watch: KMTV reports on last week's shock announcement

If it does get the go-ahead, the site would be designated as a nationally significant infrastructure project and would represent a major step forward for the planned cargo hub airport, initially for freight.

The acquisition of the site by RSP came out of the blue and surprised many.

While the former owners of Stone Hill Park have formally withdrawn their opposition to the DCO, the planning inspectorate will still have to consider other representations but the need for a Compulsory Purchase Order has gone. Inspectors will also take into account the financial viability of RSP’s plans

Director Tony Freudman said the £16.5m purchase cost had been agreed by both parties after negotiations. Asked if RSP considered that it had paid a fair price, he said: “Any deal requires two willing parties and for both those parties to come to an agreement.”

The sale agreement was announced last week
The sale agreement was announced last week

He said the sale had removed the CPO element of the inquiry: “We no longer require the examining authority to make a CPO against Stone Hill Park - that removes a major part of their task. The DCO is now just an application for development.”

He said there had been continuing growth in air freight cargo market, driven chiefly by the increase in e-commerce and what is known as e-fulfillment - the growing demand for warehousing and storage.

Planning officials will spend the next three months writing a report and recommendations which will then be handed to the secretary of state for transport for a final decision by January.

What next for Manston Airport? RiverOak agrees deal to buy Thanet airfield from Stone Hill Park

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