Manston Airport sold for redevelopment

The airport in Kent has been sold to regeneration specialists, who plan to use the site for manufacturing, housing and schools.

A majority share in the site has been bought by two members of the consortium behind Discovery Park in Sandwich - Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave – who are planning a £1bn redevelopment ‘to create more than 4,000 jobs’.

Mr Musgrave said in a statement to the BBC: “Whilst it is too early to be specific about our plans, we will be looking to comprehensively redevelop the whole site to create a mixed-use community.

“This is in light of the fact that the airport has closed, the equipment has been sold and it will not reopen.

“We are aware that there were a number of job losses when the airport closed and a far greater number will replace these, and that the benefits will reach the whole of east Kent.”

However, Thanet District Council has not ruled out the possibility of placing a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the site. It is part way through a reviewing process, and the results of an exercise to identify ‘suitable indemnity partners to cover all of the associated costs’ of a CPO will be taken to Cabinet on October 16.

A spokesperson said: “The council will then undertake a wider review of the options for the site and as part of this would seek further details from the new site owners to understand more about their proposal.

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“A report outlining all of the options for the future of the privately-owned site will then be brought to a Full Council meeting for all 56 Councillors to consider.

“The council has been clear that a CPO will not go ahead unless there is evidence of the economic viability of the site operating as an airport and a suitable investor identified to cover all of the costs required.”

Meanwhile, Thanet North MP Sir Roger Gale has urged campaigners to continue fighting for the airport to be reopened. In a statement he said: “I believe that it is in both the national and the local interest for Manston to remain open as an airfield.”

Manston airport was bought for £1 by Ann Gloag - who co-founded the Stagecoach Group - last October, but closed in May with the loss of 150 jobs.