Thanet District Council to review Manston buyout decision

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Thanet District Council (TDC) has recommended its cabinet review the decision not to subject Manston Airport to a compulsory purchase order (CPO), despite the leader of Kent County Council (KCC) saying there are no viable plans to reopen it.

In a TDC extraordinary meeting on 21 May, TDC recommended the cabinet to review its position on Manston Airport and reconsider its views on the indemnity partner, RiverOak Investment, for the CPO. This comes despite the leader of KCC, Paul Carter, saying he had not seen any plans to restore Manston to a viable airport. At a KCC meeting on 21 May, he said the only plans submitted were from the owners of the airport, Chris Musgrave and Trevor Cartner, to re-develop the site.

Carter says: “Manston has now been closed for almost exactly 12 months, and in that time I have seen no credible plan, which would restore to Manston a viable airport. Nor, I believe, has the new Conservative Government.”

He adds: “The only plans I have seen for the future of the site are those published by the new owners of Manston, Chris Musgrave and Trevor Cartner. I still, despite requesting this, have not been shown any business plan from RiverOak.”

TDC says: “The council has been clear that a decision to CPO the airport would depend on identifying a suitable indemnity partner and evidence of the economic viability of the airport.”

The airport closed on 15 May 2014. It had been purchased in November 2013 for £1 ($1.55) by Ann Gloag, who set up the company, Manston Skyport to operate it. It was sold to Musgrave and Cartner in September 2014, who plan to redevelop the site.

Since the airport closed, there has been a campaign to reopen the airport, with US firm, RiverOak Investment, offering to fund the CPO and any associated costs. In December 2014, TDC postponed pursuing the CPO, saying RiverOak’s  proposals were not suitable, with the decision moving to the UK government.

Carter says the UK government secretary of state for transport is reviewing the business plans to decide what will be best for the area. He says: “Until the secretary of state completes his due diligence on both plans, it is premature to ask for an open-ended commitment to support Thanet and their CPO process.”