Sunday, 1 August 2010

Sunday Ramble 1 China Gateway, Manston Airport and Thanet Earth

I see that China Gateway and various plans for Manston Business Park seem to be back in circulation

‘Property Week’ magazine reports (30 July) see

I have lifted this from Acol Newsletter; “a major change of direction for China Gateway: The 106-acre site achieved con-sent for a 1.5m sq ft first phase in October 2008. However, the £200m scheme was dealt a severe blow when it failed to find development funding, despite having a 1m sq ft pre-let agreement with Chinamex, an investment company backed by the Chinese government.

The developer had expected to build out the first phase in one go with the prelet secured, but its plans have now changed. Ken Wills, chief executive at China Gateway says that Instead it will build six “globalisation centres” in its first phase of around 120,000 sq ft each. Each building could contain between 200 and 300 small and medium sized enterprises which China Gateway hopes will be Chinese. It is in talks with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China about establishing a base, and electronics giant Aigo. It hopes to be able to start construction on the revised phase before the end of the year. Another Ken Wills business, Summit Aviation, is to let out 40,000 sq feet of its new jet engine service facility at Manston.”

This is all a bit odd, as I can’t find any planning application for the changes, the previous planning application has as far as I understand gone into one of those odd states that our crazy planning laws produce.

By this I mean that when the council agreed it would pass the application if certain conditions were met, so the clock stops that determines when the application will expire, until the developer comes up with details of how they will comply, and until this has been thrashed out with the council and a planning agreement produced, the thing stays open in perpetuity.

My main gripe over Manston is the water one, I will try to set this out as simply as I can.

The situation at the moment is that a lot of the aquifer (the underground drinking water reservoir under Thanet, made of porous chalk) has been contaminated and the usable bit that is essential for our water is mostly under Manston. Setting aside the pollution risk issues that relate to the various activities there, the main constraint on developing Manston is the amount of undeveloped land needed for water replenishment (the bit where the rain soaks in).

The trouble is that the county and district council have both been involved with and passed various schemes there, Thanet Earth, the new road, airport expansion, China Gateway, buying land for development and so on.

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