My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Manston Time To Talk Plan B

Whilst I still support it, the  prospect of securing a Compulsory Purchase Order on Manston Airport appears to be  receding fast. So it seems sensible to begin preparing  for the inevitable  and start  discussing  future uses for the  airport land.  In fact Thanet Council has already begun doing this. As part  of the local planning process  officers are now working to develop policies  which will eventually regulate  what the airport land can be used for. This is going to be a big job and its already been said by the Council that land use policies for the  airport site  and the associated public consultation , will delay the adoption of Thanet’s Local Plan by several months. In the meantime, without a local plan in place developers including airport  owner Ann Gloag, can apply for planning permission to develop almost anything they like.   

I’ve  said all along that its highly likely that the airport land will be used for  housing. There’s  lots of circumstantial evidence to support this . First Gloag’s planning consultants  held exploratory discussions with Thanet Council  earlier this year about building 1,000 houses on airport land. Second, other planning applications for housing in close proximity to the airport are already in the process of being approved.
Next week we have East Kent Opportunities planning appeal hearing for permission to build  550 houses on prime agricultural land at the New Haine Road, which I’m pretty sure will be granted. It also looks as though the massive 1,000 house Permission’s greenfield development behind Marks and Spencer at Westwood Cross,  is gearing up for  its next phase of building . In September/ October the 850 house Manston Green development, again on prime agricultural land at the bottom of the Manston Airport runway,  will come up for approval before Thanet’s Planning Committee.  Again I suspect permission will be granted. So within a square a mile of Manston Airport we already have plans for the building of 2,400 new houses.

I believe that these developments, so close to the airport land, will persuade airport owner Gloag  to submit her own plans for housing on the site. This means that within the next 5 years we are likely to have a ‘Gloagsville’ garden city of 6-8,000 houses developed by stealth  on the open spaces and agricultural land in Thanet’s rural hinterland.

Finally the Government, through its Growth Fund scheme,  recently awarded 10million for the development of a Parkway station near Cliffsend in 2015-16.  Originally seen as life-line for the airport,  Parkway is now being touted by the South East England Local Economic Partnership (which won the Parkway funding and about which I will write more later), not as a link to Manston Airport  but as a transport hub which will  ‘open up access to major new sites for housing and business development’  and which  would make commuting to the Capital feasible – and attract higher earners to our coastal towns’. 
So there you have it an extremely  powerful regeneration focused organisation  which is supported by the Government, Kent County Council and all the Kent District Councils,  is openly backing  what is likely to become a Gloasgsville garden city on and around the Manston airport site which will be served by a  Parkway station.




Apart from a few select politicians chatting over lunch at secret regeneration meetings,  has anyone living in Thanet ever been asked if they would like a massive housing development,  served by a purpose built railway station, to be located  on greenfield agricultural land and former airport open land in Thanet’s beautiful  rural hinterland? I suspect not. Does it make sense? Certainly not.

There are almost 1000  long-term empty residential properties  available for refurbishment and  plenty of previously developed  brownfield land available within Thanet’s urban areas to meet the need  for  all the new homes we might require over the next 5-10 years. There is absolutely no need to concrete over our valuable countryside and destroy farmland.
But we must also ask whether the target of building 12,000 new homes in Thanet over the next 10-15 years is realistic and sustainable.  Will there be enough  jobs,  sufficient infrastructure and support services to manage a rapid growth in Thanet’s population associated with building so many new homes?  How we will manage the growing demand on our already stressed water supply  and aquifers? How we will mange the pressure on our sewers system which is already at breaking point? And how we will cope with the congestions and pollution caused by the massive increase in car ownership?

There is also a much bigger question which few people are talking about – why should Kent and Thanet increasingly have to support the consequences (good and bad)  of London’s   unique and powerful juggernaut economy? Surely Mayor of London, Boris Jonson, should be doing a lot more to ensure that London is a sustainable city which does not need to rely on Kent, Surrey and Essex to manage the conflicts and problems associated with it economic success?

Personally I am opposed to building  new homes on our agricultural land and rural open spaces. But I am not opposed to utilising the airport land for sustainable developments which would create jobs.  For example educational use of the site for East Kent College, the University of Kent or  Canterbury Christ Church University, or perhaps the building of a state of the art  new hospital to replace to QEQM. Such developments would also have the advantage of freeing up additional brownfield sites in our town for use as housing. The site could also be used for leisure developments,  the generation of renewable energy, or growing food.

Although the loss of the airport has had a massive impact on Thanet and its people, its time to begin thinking about the future without it and like the SME campaigners did so brilliantly well – take control of the discussion before it gets into the hands of secretive, unaccountable organisations like the Thanet Regeneration Board, the Kent and Medway Economic Partnership, and the South East Local Economic Partnership which serve the interest of greedy developers, financiers and unscrupulous political bosses instead of the people of Thanet and Kent. 

29 comments:

  1. Ecstatic to hear you taking a line which is more consistent with the policies of the Green party. I think that many people were persuaded to sign the petitions in favour of a CPO because they were told that it would prevent Ann Gloag from building houses. Only a hard core minority wanted the council to try to reopen the airport. The whole thing was stirred up by Riveroak and their letter stating their intent to become the council's indemnity partner. Having stirred things up it is interesting that the SMA group has disintegrated. Makes you think that the whole thing was set up by right-wing politicians to cause trouble. Hopefully, a sense of reality is now dawning and the council can use it's planning powers to ensure that realistic alternatives are explored with a view to generating some sustainable local employment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Anonymous, the SMA team is very much alive and kicking and will not be silenced until our airport is fully functioning once again. The petitions were circulated way before the RiverOak letter and show the strength of support for the airport. RiverOak have done their homework, and have been a willing buyer for the airport even before it closed, knowing that it CAN be viable with good management (something sadly lacking for years). Wilful closure for corporate greed without a thought for local employment or economic consequences- do you really want those values to triumph? Shame on you.

      Delete
    2. I hate to state the obvious, but it's not "your" airport. The petitions have now been thoroughly discredited. The wording on the petitions didn't include anything about saving or reopening the airport and they were all invalid for a variety of reasons. Unlike your good self, I live in Thanet and I've had to live with the years of failure that have been visited upon us by pompous' self-righteous people who insisted that the airport was viable and would bring economic prosperity. They were wrong and we have suffered as a result. We've had fifteen years of it and enough is enough. If you love airports so much, go and live by one. Manston is now just a brownfield site. For us that is progress.

      Delete
  2. My Jury is out on the viability of Manston as an airport BUT I am 100% convinced that we should be opposed to rampant housing development on greenfield sites and farmland. Ian is 100% on the money when he identifies the stealth nature of this slide into thousands of homes. Who says we need 12000 homes? It is a ridiculous target UNLESS someone somewhere with influence has their eyes on terraforming our island into a London suburb. We must be vigilant! Jobs and industry must come before housing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wasn't this the position you should have taken from Day 1?

    Have you just realised that support for propping up the Manston corpse just doesn't exist?

    Still, better late than never but you're judgement has been all over the place. Ramsgate in particular will not forgive those councillors who sell out the town. It really is as simple as that. Your former Labour colleagues are starting to realise that Manston is indeed the mythical albatross.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The visual impact of aircraft is minimum compared to the other options (apart from returning the land back to farming or perhaps a solar farm). Also open space goes hand in hand with such uses and allows the natural cycle of water capture and farming to remain. Generally the noise factor is reducing with new regulations, engine design and flight corridors (Manston of course has these mainly over the sea). Jobs both high tech and service orientated may arise both in the aviation industry and secondary associated ones such as food packaging, assembly or testing. From a Green angle it makes sense to use facilities which are outside of the London Stack so as not to burn more fuel in holding patterns, or in taxi-ing prior to take off. Further, journey times by road can be quicker and congestion less. There are very few people locally that can claim to have been here before the airport was, I agree a balance needs to be struck and that life should not be made hell but concreting over land or increasing the population is going to create more problems and overall make this a less desireable place to live (the trend of which regrettably is already evident).

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jennifer Maidman16 August 2014 at 11:01

    I have a lot of time for your views Ian and admire your courage in standing up as an individual among all the institutional nonsense. However I'm concerned that you've misunderstood the significance of what's taken place these last few months. This is not just about whether one is for or against the airport, a point that seems lost amidst the polarized for/against debate. Far more is at stake. What really incensed so many was that Ann Gloag,(billionaire director of publicly subsidized transport conglomerate Stagecoach) and Pauline Bradley (a powerful corporate lawyer and former director at bankrupt taxpayer-bailed-out HBOS bank), people with no connection or loyalty to the area were able to seize such an important local asset with no democratic process or meaningful consultation whatsoever. So this is not just about Manston, it's emblematic of a wider narrative with global resonance, a story played out again and again, of ruthless, smash and grab corporate power versus ethics, democracy and people power.

    Perhaps if Mrs Gloag and Mrs Bradley had tried to work WITH people, instead of against them, had tried to carry the middle ground instead of ruthlessly imposing their will, they might not have encountered such fierce and resolute opposition. Instead they effectively hid from staff, media, public and elected representatives, and exploited an economically dominant position to ride roughshod over all opposition. Loyal workers were sacked, companies told to leave. TG Aviation, founded by Red Arrow Teg Girdler, who have a 50 year lease and buildings at Manston, face crippling legal costs fighting Gloag through the High Court for use of the runway.

    This is is not entrepreneurship , it is capitalist blitzkreig.

    Remember also that this land was effectively donated to the war effort, with minimal compensation, by local smallholders back in 1916. As a consequence perhaps, Manston always felt like the people's airport. Now it seems as if it has been stolen. Never mind if you're a 'pro' or an 'anti'. If those 700 acres at the heart of Thanet can be so easily hijacked, if our elected representatives really cannot find any way to reverse this via the democratic process, what happens to public faith in that process, already at a woefully low ebb? Suggesting as you have Ian that people ‘prepare for the inevitable’ represents in my view a counsel of despair. I believe that's what hypnotists call a 'trance induction', an invitation to acquiesce and comply. You are saying in effect "Failure is inevitable. Resistance is futile. Go back to sleep people of Thanet.... "
    To quote Maggie Thatcher (never thought I'd find myself doing that!) No! No! No! No! No!. The Manston debacle has been a wake up call for all of us, including me. Many Thanet people are now wide awake and outraged, rightly so, and have had enough of their area being the play thing of predatory speculators . Enough is enough. I was in the council chamber recently Ian when you stood up and said Mrs Gloag should gift Manston to the people of Thanet, in return for the millions in subsidies her companies recieve from the taxpayer. Later that night they removed you for filming the meeting! Where is that fighting spirit Ian?

    Of course Manston needs more imaginative and efficient use, (though personally I would say aviation MUST be included). But right now, even as we debate the issue, even as the CPO process is still in motion, even as the right to use the runway remains the subject of a High Court case, the airport's assets are being ruthlessly stripped and auctioned by the owners in a brazen attempt to establish irreversible 'facts on the ground' . Can that approach be allowed to stand? Is that the message we send to the next generation: "If you want to get ahead, take what you want and screw the consequences for everyone else". So no plan B. First we get Manston back. Once that's done, we can argue about what to do with it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer,

      This is all so much hair-splitting and finger pointing yet again. You talk, essentially of the desire to have seen conciliatory noises coming from Ann Gloag yet all she has faced since announcing the consultation period and closing the airport has been personal abuse, slander and libel from certain commentators. Add-in a host council that has allowed itself to be knee-jerked into a CPO process by people who never bothered using the airport whilst it was open and you wonder why she would now be even interested in helping the area to re-generate.

      Manston is finished as far as aviation is concerned. Surely, you'd agree, that what is needed is a transformational approach to the future of the 700 acres. Allow it to change. Don't fight it :-)

      Delete
  6. MR DRIVER.... Can you tell me when they will build More Hospital Space to deal with all these 'new houses' and take on more much needed staff? and the extra Police we will need to deal with all the new residents? and the extra Fire service?? No......... i didn't think so

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps new schools, hospitals, prisons, fire stations and prisons could be built at Manston. Would this not create jobs?

      Delete
    2. Prisons? Are you Serious? You want Prisons, Oh My God.... And do you really think they will build more Hospitals? Police stations? Fire Stations? Grow up and smell the coffee... they cut services to these all the time, but you think they will build more. I'm sorry, i can;t stop laughing.

      Delete
  7. I hate to have to point out the obvious to someone so eminently well-qualified as Dr. BW but it isn't "your" airport. It belongs to Ann Gloag. If you had been interested in buying it you had the opportunity to do so. It is difficult to understand what you hope to achieve by writing to a minister of the government about the asset sale. A minister has no legal powers to intervene and could only do so by seeking an injunction through the courts. The airport and its assets belong to Ann Gloag. She bought them legally and, having closed the airport three months ago, is free to dispose of them. I don't see a judge granting an injunction when the airport has been closed for three months already. Secondly, I would like to request that Dr, BW stops massaging the facts. Thanet District Council received two petitions from the Save Manston campaign; one e-petition with around 3300 signatures and one written petition with around 4400 signatures. Both petitions were horribly flawed and neither was properly validated by the council. In fact, council officers stated quite clearly that the numbers of signatures could not be added together in the way that Dr. BW has done. We are left to wonder just how inaccurate and misleading it is to claim that they submitted a petition of 26,500 to Downing Street.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Brownfield it is however lets see on the one hand you have Manston is ours (whatever that means) and we want it back, and on the other hand there will be 12000 new homes built. What these polarised viewpoints really means is no one knows however it doesnt matter really.
    What we really have is an American Hedge fund manipulating public opinion to get what they want as opposed to a Scottish multi millionaire telling them to take a long run over a short pier with TDC stuck in the middle the rest is just emotion

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ian I am glad that you have returned to being a green Cllr again as many of your ideas on how Ramsgate should be ran, are good ones but when it came to your support for a CPO on Manston and handing it over to a US hedge fund to make a huge cargo airport I was truly shocked. How you ever thought this would be a good idea?
    We don't know that Ann Gloag wants to build houses yet, we did think that, as you exposed what we thought were her plans but now turn out to be Tony Freudmann and his company. I wonder how long people at TDC knew this and why that sort of info did not come out?
    Why do we need to build so many houses in Thanet? Its not just to get a small fund is it? It seems a big price to pay for a few million.
    When will TDC learn that Thanet is beautiful and would have great appeal if just a few years are spent on making it a family tourist destination again all the money that will be spent, will be in local's pockets not given to multinationals, This would make Thanet far richer than most think. I have been looking at old photos of the seafronts and do believe Thanets beaches could once again become great and very busy.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mr. Beau Webber complains that others have their facts wrong, but goes on the publish some serious errors himself. There is no 7700 strong petition. There were two overlapping petitions which cannot be added together because many of the signatures were the same. Furthermore, the petitions did not mention saving the airport or its assets. The petition asked the council to CPO the airport and to look into issuing bonds to fund this. People were being told that the petition was about preventing housing development at Manston. It will be interesting to see what the judge makes of their submission if the minister makes the mistake of pursuing this injunction. Ann Gloag's lawyers are bound to be present an they will have a field day highlighting just how invalid these petitions are.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The Save Manston Airport group and all its guises are made up of aviation enthusiasts from all over the world. It is these people who have been asked to "save our airport and sign our petition". It is clear and been proven that they do not represent the majority of Thanet people as they claim. The signatures have been gained from emails sent to well known pilots' forums as well as gaining support from other groups against airports in their own region. Indeed some of the leading lights of the Save Manston groups come from the Medway, Holland and South Africa. They are passionate about their cause but many cannot express themselves without abuse or insults to others' views. Cllr Driver was pro airport but can clearly see that it is a complete dead duck and is now trying to ease into the opposite camp. Beau Webber mentioned the article in the Gazette this week where his group continued the same mantra that Riveroak will 'pick up the tab for the CPO' blah, blah. Sadly they continue to repeat the same things they are told, without doing any actual research. This is because what they are being told is what they want to hear. Riveroak is a real estate company with no prior experience of working in aviation. Their expertise is real estate and they can promise anything to TDC and get the hopes of the SMA'ers up but clearly they want the land to build on. This was backed up by the fact that Tony Freudman, who represents Riveroak, was the guilty party who was enquiring about building on the northern grass of the airport earlier in the year but when that fact was leaked it was Ms Gloag who got the blame for it. Lastly I would just add that the SMA'ers seem to believe (again it is what they are being told) that should there ever be an airport at Manston again it will be a freight hub or airport city and this will not require any night flights. How naïve! Politicians, Governments and (as is evident by this article), Councillors change their minds to suit themselves. They 'say' no nights flights will be required and we are expected to take that as fact for the sake of a few thousand aviation enthusiasts the majority of which live nowhere near Thanet. Sorry, no to the CPO!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Jennifer Maidman posted: "What really incensed so many was that Ann Gloag,(billionaire director of publicly subsidized transport conglomerate Stagecoach) and Pauline Bradley (a powerful corporate lawyer and former director at bankrupt taxpayer-bailed-out HBOS bank), people with no connection or loyalty to the area were able to seize such an important local asset with no democratic process or meaningful consultation whatsoever. So this is not just about Manston, it's emblematic of a wider narrative with global resonance, a story played out again and again, of ruthless, smash and grab corporate power versus ethics, democracy and people power."

    People may feel aggrieved, but Ann Gloag didn't do anything wrong. The airport was openly for sale for over a year and you or anybody else could have put in a bid for it. However, as with Prestwick, nobody wanted to buy it. Ann Gloag took it off Infratil's hands and it now belongs to her. It isn't as if she jumped in ahead of all of the other buyers. There weren't any. The pro-airport lobby have waged a vicious and abusive campaign against Ms. Gloag, frequently accusing her of criminality. Yet they haven't been able to produce a shred of evidence to support those claims. You might not like her and you might not like what she has done, but she is allowed to do it. It's time to let go of the failed dream and to start trying to work with Ms. Gloag. The antagonistic approach is going to end in tears.

    ReplyDelete
  13. When you moderate comments before publication it is difficult to see why you would allow the one made at 21:38. I'm assuming you've made a mistake?

    ReplyDelete
  14. sorry about that I had no intention of letting that obscene and offensive comment be published. I was doing 2 things at once and clearly failed!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. The housing plans around Westwood Cross should be stopped and consulted on. Not needed.

    Nor is the ridiculous parkway train station and the funds should be returned not wasted.

    How polluted is the aquifer at Manston and Thor and Sericol as that will steer the land use.

    We seem to have TDC silence on the contamination

    ReplyDelete
  16. Would someone please explain just when Ann Gloag placed Manston on the open Market for sale. Riveroak via our North Thanet MP said " we offered the "full asking price" of £7.5M and were turned down. If it was never put up for sale then this is a blatant lie and should be exposed as such.
    If 700 acres of brownfield can be sold for £7.5M then I'm a dutchman (apols to the Dutch)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Where can we see the list of members of this supposed Steering Committee?

    ReplyDelete
  18. I suspect anonymous was referring to the albatross as portrayed in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The Labour councillors clearly believe that it would be bad luck to kill it

    ReplyDelete
  19. Can I suggest that the sewers in thanet be upgraded before any more building are built otherwise any rainfall will mean a release of waste onto Thanet beaches. And with no port, no airport, the pink elephant that is the Turner Center the beaches are the only thing bringing in tourism in Thanet, and we dont need sewage on them.

    ReplyDelete
  20. You presumably make your false claim that the then editor of the Isle of Thanet Gazette sat on the Steering Committee, after seeing Mike Pearce listed as a member. This was a different Mike Pearce.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Ian Driver ....The overwhelming majority of the population of East Kent WANT MANSTON REOPENED. I have personally spoken to thousands of people on the streets.... THEY WANT MANSTON .....How many local people have you spoken to? I'll set you a challenge, come out on the streets with me and find out what the people really think. Forget plan B and work for the people who put you where you are, to represent their wishes.

    ReplyDelete
  22. 18.34

    Just seen your reply. That is what I was referencing. Eng.Lit. probably not BW's strong point I'd imagine. Mind you, Fiction could have been next to Fission in his world!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Cobblers Mr Bartingale many if not most people do not want Manston. Certainly unprofitable or using public funds or only cargo or night flights. But you explain how its viable having gone bust again and on the water supply and the pollution monitors being removed?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They were questions on Manston not observations Mr Bartingale and you simply harrumphed and dodged answering any of them. I don't know about sewers but vlearly you provef less than capabke in that role too

      Delete