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Manston airport: RiverOak submits planning application to reopen runway

By KentOnline reporter

A company hoping to reopen an airport which has been closed for nearly four years has submitted a planning application to ministers.

RiverOak Strategic Partners has submitted an 11,000 page proposal to the government to reopen Manston airport.

The high-powered planning document, known as a development consent order, would give the company the ability the buy the land using a compulsory purchase order if it is approved.

The former runway at Manston airport
The former runway at Manston airport

The site was closed in 2014 by previous owner Ann Gloag, who sold the site to property developers Chris Musgrave and Trevor Cartner less than six months later.

They have since renamed the site Stone Hill Park and indicated they will fight any effort to reopen the site as an airport, which they said is not viable.

Manston lost more than £100 million during 16 years under private ownership according to a report by Kent County Council in 2015.

RiverOak has dispatched 63 documents outlining how it will reopen the site as an air freight hub with complementary passenger and general aviation services.

Manston Airport last day. Waiting for the workers to leave for the last time.Picture: Tony Flashman FM3189880 (1432853)
Manston Airport last day. Waiting for the workers to leave for the last time.Picture: Tony Flashman FM3189880 (1432853)

The Planning Inspectorate will decide within 28 days whether the application meets the standards required to be accepted for examination by the Secretary of State.

George Yerrall, director of RiverOak Strategic Partners, said: “This is a hugely important moment for us, but I also recognise that it is a significant moment for many people across Thanet and East Kent too.

"On behalf of all of the directors of RSP I would like to thank the entire team who have worked incredibly hard, over several years, to get us to this point – and also extend my thanks and appreciation to all those in the community that have supported us on this journey.

“We must now wait for the Inspectorate’s decision as to whether we proceed to the examination stage of the DCO process.

Property developers Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave own the former Manston airport
Property developers Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave own the former Manston airport

"We have certainly endeavoured to do everything we can to deliver a grounded, detailed and evidence-based application that will meet PINS’ requirements, and I therefore hope and expect that today will mark the start of the next phase of our commitment to reopening Manston Airport and, in doing so, help to deliver the employment and prosperity for East Kent that it so richly deserves.”

Stone Hill Park is due to submit its own revised planning application for about 4,000 homes, commercial space and an aviation heritage area by the end of May.

Director Trevor Cartner said: “We are pleased that RiverOak Strategic Partners has finally submitted its development consent order application, which will now be considered by the Planning Inspectorate.

"This will deal with the issue once and for all.

“Stone Hill Park will contest the application and any subsequent hearing rigorously.

"We are absolutely convinced that we will win, as the proposition being advanced by RSP is built on a foundation of sand.

“The quicker the process is dealt with, the quicker Stone Hill Park will help to kickstart the economy of Thanet as a whole."

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