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Manston: RiverOak compelled to apply for new licence

By Paul Francis

The consortium vying to acquire Manston and re-open it as an airport says a legal planning wrangle with the current owners will not derail its timetable.

RiverOak Strategic Partnership Limited has been compelled to apply for a new licence that will grant it authority to access the site to carry out environmental surveys and collect data.

The licence is necessary as part of the process of applying for what is known as a Development Consent Order, granted by the government for nationally significant infrastructure projects.

The former Manston airport, now called Stone Hill Park. Picture: Simon Burchett
The former Manston airport, now called Stone Hill Park. Picture: Simon Burchett

RiverOak is a new company set up in the UK to continue with its efforts to acquire the site through a DCO.

Its American-based predecessor had successfully applied for a licence.

However, the current owners of what has been renamed Stone Hill Park said they would refuse access to the site because the licence had been granted to the American investment company which was no longer involved.

Ray Mallon, spokesman for Stone Hill Park, said: “In the weeks leading up to this access, Stone Hill Park asked RSP on several occasions to clarify they had the necessary authority to access our land and RSP was either unable or unwilling to do so.

“It is our view and that of our legal advisor that the Section 53 authorisation was not lawfully granted as the applicant had withdrawn from the process by the date of grant. As a result, if RSP wish to pursue a DCO application in relation to the land owned by SHP then our advice was they now needed to apply in their own name, which they have now done.”

Tony Freudman, a director of RiverOak said that the issue of applying for a new licence was in hand and was only a minor inconvenience.

“It is not going to delay anything and we have made a fresh application to the planning inspectorate which is effectively being made by the same team.”

Stone Hill Park’s planning application to transform the redundant airport site with heritage and leisure features, homes and a business park has been lodged with Thanet District Council.

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