Stone Hill Park masterplan
Stone Hill Park masterplan
The planning application to develop the former Manston airport site into a mixed use development, have been submitted to councillors.
The masterplan for the 800-acre site includes up to 2,500 homes, commercial development, two primary schools, a hotel, swimming pool, sports fields and allotments. The plans also allow for the old airfield’s runway to be kept intact and will be used as a recreation space, taking inspiration from other runway parks such as Templehof in Berlin. Also included in the plans is Spitfire Park - a grassy area, which will allow Second World War and other heritage aircraft to continue to land on the site for events.
The outline application seeks approval for the first phase of commercial development, which would be employment land to the western end of the runway and could create 4,000 jobs when totally complete.
Stone Hill Park spokesman Ray Mallon said: “We have carried out extensive consultation with local people and organisations and the feedback has helped shape the scheme that has now been submitted.
“The application outlines a carefully designed, mixed use site which is sympathetic to existing settlements and preserves the heritage of the former Manston airfield.
“The development will bring much needed jobs, homes, leisure and community facilities to east Kent, as well as a multi-million pound boost to the local economy and local public bodies.”
The project team includes global planning and property consultants Bilfinger GVA and master planners PlanIt, working alongside the sites owners Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave, who also own nearby Discovery Park.
There is still much controversy about the ownership of the site, which its present owners bought from Scottish businesswoman Ann Gloag, who closed the airport and maintains a 20% shareholding. RiverOak, the US company which tried to buy the airport from Mrs Gloag before it closed, has reaffirmed its intentions this week to try and take control of the site, despite Thanet District Council refusing a compulsory purchase order by them last year.
Mr Mallon said: “The debate over the future of this site has caused confusion and, at times, distress for local people – as well as economic uncertainty for the area.
“Repeated studies and market testing exercises have shown that aviation is not feasible on this site. It’s now time for the council to focus on what is feasible and best for the future of this area.”
He added: “For the avoidance of any doubt, Stone Hill Park has been approached by one party who are exploring numerous possible infrastructure projects across the country and assessing which, if any, are feasible.
“I would describe them as credible speculators, exploring, with an open mind, the possibility of aviation use on the site. We have held one meeting with them during which the feasibility of an airport was discussed, along with our plans for mixed development of the site; plans which we have now submitted.
“I have no doubt that if this party commissions a feasibility study on this site it will reach the same conclusion as all the previous reports, studies and market testing exercises – an airport is not a sustainable proposition.”
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