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Houses in five Thanet areas could be built to safeguard Manston site as airport

By Paul Francis

Hundreds of houses could be built around five areas of Thanet to safeguard the former Manston site as an airport.

The council has drawn up three options for the site, which is the subject of a long-running wrangle over whether it should be earmarked for some kind of aviation use or developed for as many as 2,500 homes.

One of the three options will be incorporated into the council’s draft Local Plan, due to be published within weeks.

The former Manston site (2479089)
The former Manston site (2479089)

But one risks the potential of a backlash as it says that 2,500 new houses would be needed elsewhere.

Under the option, Manston would be formally designated for some kind of aviation use - meaning other parts of Thanet would be needed to meet the government’s house-building targets.

The council has identified five areas where more houses could be built to compensate, with Westgate seeing 1,000 more, Birchington 600 more; Westwood 500 more; Hartsdown 300 and Minster 100 more.

The two other options under consideration would also see Manston designated in a way that would offer a degree of protection as an airport but on a limited timescale.

One would see the council deferring for two years any decision on what the site could be used for. That would give time for the consortium behind plans to open a cargo hub airport to pursue its bid for a Development Consent Order - forcing the current owners to relinquish the site.

The remaining option would officially recognise Manston for aviation use but not designate it as such for two years.

The future use of Manston is a critical part of the authority’s draft Local Plan - a blueprint setting out house-building targets.

Delays in drawing up the plan led to a threat by the government to intervene and take charge.

Former housing secretary Sajid Javid wrote in March to the authority's Conservative leader Bob Bayford criticising the council's "persistent failure" to produce its local plan.

The documents are legally required to be produced by councils to earmark specific sites for housing allocation.

Last week, it emerged that RiverOak Strategic Partnership had faced a series of concerns about its application for a Development Consent Order, with the independent Planning Inspectorate saying not enough information had been offered.

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