Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Some thoughts on the Manston Airport site sale to Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave of the Discovery Park consortium at the Pfizer site in Sandwich.

I guess my first reaction as a local businessperson is thank god the uncertainty is over, frankly aviation activates at the airport have never done much harm locally, but the ongoing years of uncertainty about what the airport may turn into have.

I can’t see any circumstances where any local politician could turn down the reasonable potential for 4,000 local jobs and retain any credibility.  


Here is the video

Thanet District Council say the have already spent over £15,000 on external advice over the Manston cpo, but they won’t say how much in terms of officer hours, this expenditure seems to be based on one rejected petition and one flawed petition with no public consultation. 


I guess the truth of the matter here is that TDC were never the right level of government to attempt to buy an airport KCC perhaps as the would have represented the potential catchment area.

Of course the main concern with any use of the Manston site with any use is the drainage issue because is sits on one of the underground reservoirs that supply Thanet with drinking water. But this new use will trigger a planning application with a full environmental impact assessment so hopefully after all these years the work that various airport operators failed to do on this front will now get done.   

I don’t really see any future for a TDC lead cpo without KCC support and it appears that KCC are supporting the discovery park. Although frankly I don’t really see how there could be any grounds for a cpo directed towards a UK company that has just bought a site and has reasonable plans to create 4,000 jobs on it in by investing £1bn the next 20 years.

I asked the council leader for her reaction, here is her response

From: Iris johnston
To: michaelchild
Sent: Tue, 23 Sep 2014 20:51
Subject: Re: Manston

Thank you Michael,

I was informed of this at 8am this morning and have had two meetings today with new owners. They have gone away to discuss a number of issues but do not support the reopening of the airport. 

Thanet of course needs good well paid jobs and obviously we will need to know more about the companies that are possibly coming. No names were mentioned today and in fairness I understand the deal only went through on Friday.

A lot of information required,

In the meantime TDC have a responsibility to see the market testing and Q and A from the back to back investors finalised. This will be in a report on the 16th October to Cabinet. Due diligence etc was agreed on 31st July and I am absolutely honour bound to see this through.

The company connected to Discovery Park have as far as I can see have a good track record but I haven't seen a business plan re Manston.

Sent from my iPad

I will ramble on here as I think of things to say about this.

75 comments:

  1. The uncertainty is NOT over. The CPO process can still be pursued, as confirmed by both Roger Gale & Iris Johnson today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Lib-Dems also still want a CPO (as do UKIP of course): http://www.thanetgazette.co.uk/Press-ahead-Manston-airport-CPO-say-Lib-Dems/story-22972743-detail/story.html

      So looks like your only voting choice if you don't want an airport is Ian Driver (for now!).

      Delete
  2. Google Wynyard Park to see what the 2 developers have created. Now lets get the Campus idea on board so that education can lead to realistic jobs of Hi-tec companies all working together.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Barry and Michael, the discovery park in Sandwich still has space that nobody wants. So if you really believe that 4,000 jobs will be created then you're even more gullible than the SMA lot!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sounds like China gate warehouses again...we need the environment protecting not empty construction grand projects

    ReplyDelete
  5. Whatever happens next, there's little doubt that Ann Gloeg sold it because SHE knew that the CPO stood a good chance. The fight isn't over yet .

    ReplyDelete
  6. 4000 jobs, but over 20 years, 200 jobs a year on average. In practice most jobs will appear towards the end of that time, unless construction jobs are included. If construction jobs are include then these are only transitory and what Thanet needs is permanent jobs. We did have 150 jobs on the site and if an airport reopens then most of these will return, and these will be jobs now, not in the distant future.

    Ann Gloag still has a 25% stake so can any lawyers say if one CPO will suffice or do we need two CPOs now?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Time will tell

      http://www.wynyardpark.com/master-plan/video/

      Delete
    2. Just one CPO will suffice.

      Delete
    3. One cpo is needed....but its not a snoflakes chance...laughable sma and our aviationpoliticians left looking foolish

      Delete
  7. SMA laugh at talk of 4,000 jobs by the new lot but praise their own people promising 6,500 jobs by signing their 'petition' !

    ReplyDelete
  8. if you want to see what a council with some vision can do with a brownfield site take a look at : http://www.thesharpproject.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  9. Aviation activities at Manston never did much harm locally you say Michael?

    Why monitoring of the pollution then? Or do you mean thr waste of tax and lost jobs?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Same old same old, Michael Today yet another developer taking a punt, where's chinagate, so far they've mention vague plans 4000 jobs in an so far unplanned.

    Nothing has changed other than Anne Gloag has sold off the fixtures and fittings What pressing need is there for another massive housing estate?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The tricky bit is that central government demands that 125,000 dwellings are built in the south east in the next 12 years and the target for Thaneti s over 6,000. Something to do with the rising population. The other tricky bit is that TDC do not have a framework plan and in its absence developers have licence to build anywhere. Maybe if you are on the local housing list you would welcome a few more social housing properties being built. Currently 6000 people a year apply for the 340 that become available.

      Delete
    2. How many empty houses and offices are there

      Delete
    3. There's a building full of empty offices up at Manston. They are empty because the airport failed. Let's hope the new businesses are a lot more successful than Manston ever was.

      Delete
    4. The demand for housing is due to both a rising population and the increase in single person households.

      In the past in a lot of single people would have had one room in a lodging house - a lot of large houses in Thanet were specifically built as lodging or boarding houses [and not just for holidays] - this often being specifically noted in the deeds as a permitted use. This was traditionally a very common form of housing for single male workers who had left the parental home, and also [later on] became common for single working women and the retired. These days however these houses would be flagged as 'homes in multiple occupation' (HMO) and require licences if beyond a certain size.

      In Thanet, houses with more than 3 unrelated persons require planning permission for class C4 use - a change of use that may potentially be refused if there are more than a certain proportion of HMOs in the local area. This is quite a common restriction that's used in University towns to stop the local housing stock being taken over by student housing.

      Sure, there are empty properties around. The demand for housing however needs more than a few odd houses and ex-shops to be renovated. Mass production of new homes would benefit the young as this would force down both house prices and rent - but would dismay some older people who have seen their houses grow in value enormously over the years.

      Delete
    5. Interesting points Fred, but a rising population is debatable - it's shrinking due to lower birth rates. While as you point out single person households are not really a need but something of a fad given shared houses with lodgers etc in previous years.

      An HMO policy is right but sensibly balancing students/lodgers/care homes is not impossible and preferable to overbuild. And Climate Change which requires less building anyway.

      Thanet is not short of houses - but short of parks and fields.

      Delete
    6. Analysing the population data from the Office of National Statistics, we can estimate that over the last five years the population of Thanet has grown by an average of about 1000 persons per year.

      Delete
  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      Delete
    2. Anon want to discuss the issue, fine, want to correct other peoples spelling and grammar, not so fine.

      Delete
  12. What is certainly true is that the failure of the previous and now current labour administration to deliver a local plan makes it very difficult to reject any application for planning permission to build large estates. The council effectively withdrew any opposition to the EKO proposal on this simple point. The current administration has deferred real work on the local plan until January 2015, and following the 'secret' transformation programme, has had to rehire an old expert to ave any real capacity to write the local plan. I am sure these are all marginal errors which have nothing to do with the situation they got themselves into over EKO, nor giving extra flexibility to developers over this critical site as well. I tend to cock up rather than conspriracy

    ReplyDelete
  13. That's not tricky at all 9:31, all we need to do is have a change of government!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Chris is forgetting that the Tory plan was - and is under Bob Bayford/Gale/Sandys - to develop Manston/a CPO which is now defunct. The local plan specified an airport so it's right to redo it now in light of the repeated failure at Manston.

    Even the existing WC/housing estates are opposed - as was Chinagate warehouses - as not needed so Manston Big Estate looks unlikely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be helpful to all if you read what was written, not replied to what you would like to have seen written. We are not talking about rewriting a local plan, but about not writing one as required for more than 2 years, from either idleness, deliberate decision to ease the other messes labour got itself into, or accidental decision which just happens to fit with what's now happening, and has happened at EKO. I generously offered a labour cock up; the stock labour supporter deflection reply tends to underscore the deliberate intent theory. Truth is,as ever, you can't trust labour to do what is right; only what's in their own interest.

      Delete
    2. Even Iris has publicly stated the CPO faces exactly the same tests as before, and will go forward to be assessed as before. Do try to keep up.

      Delete
    3. Indeed Chris, this is why I was mystified by Michael's claim that "the uncertainty is over", unless he knows something that we don't?

      Delete
    4. I think the real issue here is the criteria of cpos which boils down to taking land away from a private company or individual being in the public interest and this having to be decided not at district council level but at national government level.

      Always in the case of cpos if the public interest is in the balance then the judgment is made on the side of the existing owners. So at best from re opening the airport you can only really have a proposal that may or may not work, and may or may not provide significant economic benefit, I don’t think anyone – particularly given Manston’s history of economic failure – would or could say that any airport project on the site would be guaranteed to succeed. On the other hand you have the site’s new owner with a track record of succeeding with discovery parks, see http://www.wynyardpark.com/about/ for a cpo to succeed you would have to go well past the balance of buying the site by cpo for another project by a different owner being more likely to succeed.

      I think the problem here is that sma, quite a few of the TDC councillors and even an MP have managed to deluded themselves into the position where they feel that TDC have some sort of ultimate power to decide whether a cpo can take place and that if they manage to put together some reasonable project in a similar risk band to the one the new owner is proposing then a cpo is likely to happen.

      All that is happening at the moment is firstly, public money and officer time is being wasted pursuing this and secondly the politicians who haven’t worked out the situation are harming their political futures.

      Essentially you have the UK government, KCC on the side of discovery parks with virtually every part of the country trying to get them in their area and then of course Thanet.

      Delete
    5. What an interestingly objective assessment.

      Delete
    6. Michael very good breakdown of the situation

      Delete
    7. Chris, Om, I have amended my comment slightly and put up as the main part of today’s blog post in the hope that people will at least understand that the game has now changed and that the TDC cpo is now dead in the water.

      Delete
    8. Three issues remain though:

      1. Are 2 Discovery parks viable? The first hasn't replaced Pfizer jobs. The 2nd is a derelict field.
      2. How contaminated is DP2 and how will the aquifer be protected?
      3. How will both sites be prevented from redistributing existing companies and being merely housing? DP1 was going to build supermarkets?

      For the first time in a decade we can see our politicians have failed and new plans are needed not just the usual kneejerk jobjobs, anything will do, houses etc etc

      Delete
    9. DP1 was going to have housing too, once the supermarket/s were there as I understand it, and as the plans all show. What happened there and where are we with the jobs against the level promised?

      Perhaps DP2 can be called DDP2 "Dirty Discovery Park" for all those businesses that don't really match our "Science Park" level of cleanliness, even though we have lots of empty space.

      Delete
    10. Sadly, Michael, you have missed the sarcasm in my answer. If you want an illustration of self delusion, read your own assertions objectively.

      Delete
    11. Chris you obviously feel that you have engaged in some advanced semantics here and as don’t understand what it you are trying to say I would guess quite a few other readers don’t either. Are you saying that a cpo is in TDC’s gift now? Are you saying that there is a way that an alternative project driven by a cpo could be so certain of success and providing more jobs and regeneration locally that it would overwhelm the discovery park proposal and tip the decision in favour of a cpo?

      Delete
    12. Michael, Please do not presume to include me in your clique and claque of those who do not understand what Chris is saying. I understand and agree with him. I also understand what you are up to.

      Delete
    13. 8:53 Pfizer had 6000 jobs and DP1 has 2000. Anyone know how many of these are nonsciene or existing thanet businesses shifting around.

      I think the housing and supermarkets were rejected

      Delete
    14. I would really like to know how many have just moved - I know of several firms that have moved there from other premises in Thanet (some of which are now still empty), but no idea if they have since taken on afterwards. Obviously there are lots of different figures and I don't know what the right ones are, but apparently the Thanet Extra was claiming 1600 staff and about half full. Does that include the suggested 600 already there from Pfizer's? Again, without a proper breakdown, it is pretty meaningless, but they won't all be "new" jobs.

      Delete
  15. Basically there is nothing new here other than an unsubstantiated proposal. Not only does Discovery Park itself still have space, but some of the firms that moved there did so from Thanet, simply moving rather than creating jobs. Likewise, government demands for housing are meaningless without jobs to go with them.

    To me this is just more land speculation and banking, hoping to make some kind of financial killing in the future. It takes Thanet people's prospect forward not one iota and just continues the uncertainty of the future of the Manston land. Let us hope that while it stands idle it is not left to deteriorate into an eyesore like so many land banked sites.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Fields would be nice at Manston maybe a park. Both would be more useful than an airport or more housing and would protect the aquifer. Have the dumped jets been removed yet?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Discovery Park obviously don't want the manufacturing and warehousing companies down there, or they wouldn't get permission to do that on their own site. They have already said that they wouldn't be having scientific companies at Manston, so there goes the idea of those sort of jobs. There has been talk about developing the former Pfizer's site for a while now, including houses and supermarkets, but that seems to have gone very quiet. It all smacks of a smokescreen to get the number of houses they really want on the site, whilst ensuring the sound bites include "jobs", "credible", "sold" and the involvement of the local community. Sorry, it won't help Ramsgate or the rest of Thanet to develop and could make things worse if another shopping area is then created, further killing our town centres with nowhere to park.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I agree with William - to the extent that they're talking about the occupancy at the Discovery Park which is much reduced from when Pfizer moved out because they've pulled a load of the buildings down. In fact, it seems, the Discovery Park in Sandwich is only really viable because they're building a supermarket and houses on part of the site.

    In an ideal world, they'll do some proper thinking and build a brand new mass employer (factory or whatever, I'm not bright enough to think of one) together with using the opportunity to upgrade the rail line by creating a loop that misses out all of the Thanet stations. This has some obvious benefits over the Discovery site in that there is basically bare land at Manston.

    But what will probably happen is that the nimbies will get on their high horse and will force the whole thing to become a fight to the High Court, will picket and complain and fight tooth-and-nail for an airport that everyone knows is actually only ever going to be unviable. Just like all of the other ex-industrial sites in the area, it will be left derilict for decades, probably until central government steps in and forces Kent to build some kind of low-value housing estate that nobody wants.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unlike all the housing that is going to go up there in the plans anyway then?

      Delete
    2. From the Thanet Gazette it appears that two thirds of the site could be housing!

      Delete
  19. http://www.janiceatkinson.co.uk/Media/Press-Releases/Manston-Airport-23-09-2014.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  20. The establishment of a Discovery Park is great news for Thanet, and as Michael says, other areas strive to achieve one. Also, I agree that it is good news to end all this uncertainty. Any CPO would be a failure, it was doubtful before, but impossible now. All we should be concerned about is if the current local politicians insist on wasting more of our money on the failed concept of a CPO

    ReplyDelete
  21. Developments such as the Sandwich Discovery Park attract ample government grants. ‘KCC has already allocated £7.3 million from its Expansion East Kent fund to help eight companies set up and expand their businesses and another £6 millions is coming from the infrastructure fund.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Green Party's Ian Driver calls for himself to resign Over Alleged Politically Motivated band wagon jumping.

    ReplyDelete
  23. 9:22 unfortunately neither Discovery nor Manston are planned growth. Pfizer left remember and so has aviation.

    Our councils have created fewer jobs than 10 years ago. They must go.

    Why would any business relocate to Thanet with these chimps? And competition from other councils?

    ReplyDelete
  24. The number of people claiming Job Seekers fell by over 220 in Thanet in August. Percentage wise a lot more than any other district in Kent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, but that means absolutely nothing. What age group was it, skills level or was it because of seasonal fluctuations?

      Delete
    2. Or benefits stopped.

      Delete
  25. how many were 0 hour contracts 9.47

    ReplyDelete
  26. manston air port up and running 150+ jobs now not 200 in say 18months /2years time

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unlikely 10:53 perhaps 10 or 20 jobs and of course even that would be unprofitable. And the opening costs would be huge and publiv funds could create far more jobs. Manston is over

      Delete
  27. Any self employed person is on a zero hours contract. If they don't work they don't get paid. So there are hundreds of people in Thanet on zero hour contracts by virtue of the fact that they are self employed.

    I would rather be on a zero hour contract than have no work. And remember, while you are idle you can always look for something better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No SEMBOB zero hour contracts exclude people from working anywhere else. In effect returning to casual Victorian labour. Why anyone would want to sign one is a mystery to me unless they carry on looking/working elsewhere?

      Delete
    2. Yes I knew that anon @ 6:59 pm. And as I said, and so do you, you can carry on looking elsewhere for work whilst on the contract. My point was that the self employed have to look for their own work or they don't get paid so in effect no work no pay, just like a zero hour contract.

      I assume that if you are on a zero hour contract you can sign on and declare earnings, unless things have changed since I was unemployed back in the early 1990s. Doubtless someone will put me right if I am wrong.

      Delete
    3. SeMBOB I am self employed and the fundamental difference concerns redundancy payments SE cannot get paid them EMP on a zero hour can.
      There other differences that apply

      Delete
  28. Let us also not forget that it isn't just about the headline figure of the jobs that are employed at the airport - there are lots of jobs associated with companies connected to, located at and supplying the airport too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If only 4:08pm...there is no airport. Associated jobs would apply to any employer at the site. You're clutching at straws again.

      Manston is bust and has been for years. Unless you are a councilor or were employed at manston why would you pretend otherwise?

      Delete
    2. I suppose you can discount the food suppliers for the airport café, the bakers, grocers, etc anon @ 6:57. Putting to one side the argument that Manston was not viable, it was estimated that about 600 jobs depended in part on business from the airport. Does anybody have a figure for those who lost their job indirectly through the airport closing, or a small business that is struggling to find alternative customers?

      Delete
    3. No, clutching at straws would be suggesting an investment of £1billion and 6000 jobs when you haven't really had chance to flesh out any plans for the site. PR at its worst.

      Delete
    4. Discounting manston as not viable is the heart of the matter. Indirect jobs are mere guesstimates and would apply to any viable company.

      Clutching at straws would also be jumping up and down in delight because someone mentions 6000 jobs without any plans....

      Delete
    5. That is really the issue. If there is viability, then you have some chance to compare job creation and transfer (being two different things). The Discovery Park claim they have one customer wanting to go to Manston, but why are they not considering the Manston Business Park or another? Is it purely down to the prospect of an Enterprise Zone and costs?

      From RO's point of view, they really need to come forward and bring at least an idea of what business is ready to come to the site. Some has already been mentioned in the form of previous customers there, as well as claims as more trade/increased payments from them. There has also been more talk about RO's involvements elsewhere and possible business that could be transferred, but that is probably all tied up with confidentiality at this stage. I wonder if anyone will actually be able to look and compare objectively the two options, including the issues with housing - let's hope TDC do, but would we ever believe it if it is kept confidential?

      The Accounts and occupation levels at Wynyard Park are also currently being scrutinised and picked apart. The building of the proposed hospital there also seems to be a complete mess, also with local opposition.

      It does seem to be getting even more complicated!

      Delete
    6. It isn't complicated at all. You cannot take property away from its legitimate owner just because a load of aviation fanaticsd have signed a petition. You can't take property from the owner just because you think their plans aren't as good as someone else's. There is no longer any rationale for a CPO at Manston. Lots of people seem to think its about the number of votes; how many people have said they want to keep an airport. It isn't. It wouldn't matter if the whole of Thanet signed a petition; the judge would still throw it out of court because there is no rationale.

      Delete
    7. Well said 7:57 and worth remembering our idiot politicians support such a CPO. The libdem even thought manston was the only aviation scrapyard.

      Manston is finished as an airport and housing sprawl.

      Delete
  29. Good points 5:50 DPs claim of being regeneration experts is wesk in the basis of just Wynyard Park. That's just one.

    This does highlight Tdc foolishness over 150 jobs at Manston when 4000 have been lost at Pfizer.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I am concerned by the level of bile and abuse appearing on the Save Manston Airport group Facebook site. They even posted the registration number of Ann Gloag's business partner's car along with a picture of the woman, saying "This is who we are looking for." I know this was passed to the police, because it is intimidating and threatening, but this is how appalling the SMA campaign has become. The tone of the site is appalling and the group has clearly attracted and welcomed large numbers of people who are abusive. Since indicating that the council was not going to CPO against the new owners, Iris Johnston has been on the receiving end. However, many of the members still seem to be clinging to the notion that the CPO might, somehow, still go ahead. The support which TDC has given the SMA over the last few months has been instrumental in winding its members up into a frenzy of anticipation. Now that the tide has turned, TDC has a duty to prepare these people for the climbdown which will happen at the meetings in October. The level of verbal abuse from SMA is appalling. I sincerely hope that the people who started the campaign can demonstrate some degree of control over its membership as they begin to realise that the dream is over, and that they were seriously misled about the realistic outcome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm more concerned by some of Michael's comments, and judging by Chris Wells' comment on Ian Driver's blog I'm not the only one!

      Delete
  31. Iris is reaping the whirlwind now. Carter rejects an airport too. Where's macgonigal

    ReplyDelete
  32. In view of today's announcement of 100,000 houses to be built on brownfield sites and sold at a discount to people under 40 it would suggest that the ideas put forward by Discovery Park could be achieved much quicker than originally forecast.

    ReplyDelete

Please note comments that may be libellous, comments that may be construed as offensive, anonymous derogatory comments about real people, comments baiting internet trolls, comments saying that an anonymous comment was made by a named real person, boring comments and spam comments, comments in CAPs will be deleted. Playground stuff like calling real people by their time stamp or surname alone, referring to groups as gangs, old duffers and so on will result in deletion. Comment that may be construed as offensive to minority groups is not allowed here either, so think before you write it, remember that the internet is a public place, that it is very difficult to be truly anonymous and that everyone who uses it leaves a trail of some sort. Also note the facility to leave anonymous comment will be turned of during periods when I am unable to monitor comment, this will not affect people commenting who are signed on to their blogger accounts. When things are particularly difficult on the commercial spam front I may turn comment moderation on for periods.

If you feel that someone has left a comment that is offensive and directed at you personally please email me (link on the sidebar) asking to have it removed, you will need to tell which post and the date and timestamp of the offending comment. Please do not reply to the offending comment as I will assume you continuing the dialogue as meaning that you want the comments left there.