Manston Airport may start new chapter next week

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Manston Airport may yet be revived after the 13 January Thanet District Council scrutiny panel review of the council’s cabinet decision on 11 December to defer a compulsory purchase order for the airport site.

Manston Airport was closed in May 2014 after being sold to land developers, but local community and political pressure has led to the site’s evaluation for a potential compulsory purchase order (CPO). The CPO could lead to a public, private partnership between the Council and a private finance partner that might see the airport reopen. A company that has express interest is the US firm RiverOak Investment, which offered to fund the CPO, having offered to buy the airport for £7 million ($10.6 million) in April 2014.

RiverOak Investment chief executive officer, Stephen DeNardo, says: “RiverOak Investment Corp has never wavered in its commitment to fund the compulsory purchase of Manston Airport and we are pleased that they council has decided to review its earlier decision.”

The Council said in December that the five-year business plan RiverOak provided was “insufficient” and “the business assumptions appear to be optimistic as regards to revenue and the known costs of operation.” The council also said RiverOak did not provide a 20-year business plan to demonstrate long-term viability.

If the 13 January Overview and Scrutiny Panel meeting decides it is still concerned about the deferral, it refer the matter back to the council or the cabinet. If it is referred to the Cabinet, a further decision could be made within three weeks, by early February.

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