Manston sold story image

Manston, What’s next?

We learned today that RiverOak Strategic Partnership (RSP) has purchased the Manston Airport site. Well, Stone Hill Park (SHP) seem to have been beaten down by a lack of vision, forward thinking and intransigence at Thanet District Council. Despite a robust plan for mixed use development on the Manston site and clearly demonstrating their business acumen, the Conservatives in control vetoed this proposal. Leaving us with the long term thorny problem what is the future of Manston?

Chris Musgrove of Stone Hill Park’s comments speak volumes to me “we have invested a substantial seven figure sum in pursuing a planning application for our vision for the site but that has been met with little support from Thanet District Council” he goes into say that at some point in the future SHP will “invest the capital released into other major regeneration projects throughout the UK.”

Our loss is clearly someone else’s gain. The prospect of significant investment is often appealing to councils. I was surprised that decent housing, including the 400 social homes on offer, leisure facilities, and advanced manufacturing units weren’t a sufficient pull on my fellow Thanet councillors. Meanwhile we must continue to wait whilst the aspect of the DCO concerning the viability of an air cargo rumbles on to a conclusion.

The fact that the Department for Transport have a contract in place at Manston in respect of operation ‘Brock’ and ‘Stack’ will limit what can be done until that contract expires or is renegotiated. But it possibly also means it turned a lump of prime brownfield site into a ‘going concern’. Whatever, it’s certain true that not one penny of the no doubt extraordinary amounts changing hands will pass into the local economy.

However, it’s no use crying over spilt milk.

RiverOak Strategic Partnership, the new owners now need to engage in factual, open and candid communications with local politicians, pressure groups like ‘No Night Flights’, and residents to allay the serious concerns of local residents.

  • Pollution.
  • Night flights.
  • Environmental concerns.
  • Hitting our statutory duty to reduce carbon.
  • Local jobs and economic growth.
  • Traffic issues.
  • Section 106 and CiL monies.
  • Corporate social responsibility.

The list goes on.

Following my email to RiverOak director, George Yerrall I will be meeting with RSP. I would like to know what are your concerns? What questions do you wish me to put?

Here’s the correspondence

To George Yerrall

Dear George,

Congratulations in advance of your purchase of the Manston site.

I’m currently the Kent County Councillor for Ramsgate and the District councillor for Newington. Which is a ward next to Manston as you probably know.

Going forward there are obviously many issues to be dealt with about the future and use of the Manston area. There are many different perspectives. It’s clear that a great deal of dialogue and clear communication going forward is called for.

My concern in writing to you is to request an early meeting with you and/or other directors to discuss the economic needs of Ramsgate residents. You may be aware that Thanet has a chronic housing shortage and some of the highest levels of deprivation, including 52% child poverty in neighbouring Newington.

I hope your business plan might include a clear policy on corporate social responsibility, to the direct benefit of Newington and Ramsgate residents. I note your website states you wish to deliver ‘economic prosperity and employment across Kent’. I like to find out more about how that aspiration can benefit Ramsgate and Newington directly.

Kind regards

Cllr Karen Constantine.

From George Yerrall

Hi Karen,

Thank you for the congratulations and for reaching out.

It’s not clear to me right now as to when I will next be in the UK.  In order to facilitate your request, I have copied my partner, Tony Freudmann, who can arrange a meeting with you quicker than I can.

I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Best regards,


Manston on BBC Radio Kent

The BBC called me today in my capacity as Kent County Councillor for Ramsgate. They asked me to give my point of view on the Manston sale and predict what might happen in the coming months. Also discussing the topic was Dr Beau Webber of Save Manston Airport Association.


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