Monday, 21 May 2018

Manston and the Stonehill Park mixed use development plans

As I am sure most people will know the latest planning application related to this one has gone live on the Thanet District Council planning website, here is the link https://planning.thanet.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=P8EJ3KQE00300
I have reservations about the link continuing to work as the TDC planning website has a bit of a
history of this, so here is the planning ref too OL/TH/18/0660


Clicking on the documents tab on that page brings up the application documents and the responses
from organisations and members of the public either supporting or objecting to the planning
application.


On the whole I support the objectives of the scheme, more jobs, houses, facilities etc. As a bit of a
self confessed petrol head I am particularly interested in the expanded historic aircraft facilities and
like I assume most local aviation enthusiasts I hope to shape the development of these at the
planning stage.  


As with all of the large Thanet developments I am interested in the history of the site and concerned
about the environmental implications of developing it.


The elephant in the room with the Manston site has been hopes to retain it as a regional airport
overshadowed by plans to develop it as an airfreight hub, or other motives, possibly a land grab
or what has actually happened which is benefits politicians and for developers.


Of course for those of us living in Thanet the stick of having an airfreight hub’s pollution knock a
few years off our lives has made the mixed use development into something of a carrot.
Even taking that out of the equation the SHP developers have a very good record in terms of
facilitating employment locally. Their previous project in this area, Sandwich Discovery Park,
is now the main source of quality employment locally.


Historically the now vacant, or at least only in temporary use for operation stack, Manston Airport
site hasn't produced much in terms of economic return. Back in 1916 when the first cpo for military
use took place, the site was pegged out as housing plots because the farm there had gone
bust as the soil was too thin to farm.


The land classification of the the site is also a bit strange, while it looks green, because it was an
airport the site is classified brownfield and so doesn’t have any of the protections associated with
a greenfield site or agricultural land.


I can’t see any hope whatsoever of it turning into a viable passenger airport, passenger flights
now involve taking the fast train to London and the tube to the right part of the the airport.
This leaves the airfreight flights, which seem to be fairly low on job creation and high on
environmental problems. In simple terms, if you live in Thanet the noise pollution from the
freight planes is likely reduce achievement in some of the schools, the air pollution is likely
to reduce your life expectancy and the overall effect on quality of life is that it is likely to be
substantially reduced. Oddly enough this information doesn’t come from any sort of anti airport lobby,
but from the documents produced by RSP the firm that want to build the freight hub.   


With the airfreight hub DCO I have considerable reservation about its real motives and am really
only accepting what it has actually achieved so far i.e. the changing of the district council
administration to Conservative and the failure to set a local plan giving something of a free for
all for developers.


My take on this one, which is open to change from better informed and clarified input, is roughly.
The absence of the local plan really means that either this application is approved locally with
sensible constraints developed from constructive local feedback, or it is likely to go to the
planning inspector and be passed without much local input. But then so much of this depends
on the status of the local plan and whether national government and the planning inspectorate
count the local plan, that should have been replaced by now, as meaning anything at all.

A very considerable problem here is the concern about the much greater impact of the airfreight
hub is giving this application a very easy ride in terms of informed and substantiated but constructive
comment.


Personally my main reservation, which would also count to the same extent for the RSP
proposals is engaging in industrial, commercial, research and aviation activity on top of the
drinking water aquifer. Obviously given a conventional planning consent then it is the restrictions
here that would form a key part of the S106.

The main thing with these major local applications is to try and read them and respond to them
as planning applications, my understanding is that most weight will be given to to people who
live within the Thanet area. Of course the political side to this is another matter altogether.

I think for me a big issue is just how time consuming the big Manston related applications are,
reading some of the responses to the application, it is pretty obvious that some of the respondents
hadn't actually read the thing or even tried to read part of it.


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