Thursday, 5 July 2018

Viability of Manston

Following on from the last post the decision as to which option to choose still remains on whether there is evidence that an airport is viable at Manston up to the end of this Local Plan period which is 2031. The choice that Members at TDC have is option 1
This is the safer option according to officers but would still mean farmland being given over to land for housing. 1000 at Birchington, 1000 at Westgate and various other sites in Thanet along with 2500 on the brownfield site of the former Kent International Airport. Then there is Option 2

This option retains Manston as a brownfield site as currently there isn't a DCO in progress as it was withdrawn as failing to meet the requirements for a NSIP, but moves the housing to Birchington 1600, Westgate 2000, WX/Haine Road 1200 more ad other village sites.

TDC officers believe that there are risks in choosing this option primarily because there is no report on Manston written since 2014 that shows aviation being viable.
Since 2014 there have been 2 TDC reports about aviation and one TDC report about the finances of Riveroak. There has been a KCC report on viability, and 2 viability reports commissioned by Stone Hill Park the owners of the land. Here is a summary of them

For those with the perseverance here are the reports summarised in more detail

The first is the HM Government report into choosing increased capacity in the South of England and in which (despite the previous owners Infratil submitting a report) Manston effectively gets kicked into the long grass. The red is NNF's comments.

Then comes the Falcon report which said in summary that Manston would not be viable under any circumstance during the period 2014-2031 and during the period of consultation the airport closed with the loss of 144 jobs.

Next Riveroak tried to convince the administration (under Labour) to let them become a CPO partner and despite much handwringing TDC refused, The MP for North Thanet demanded Price Waterhouse Cooper conduct an examination of the process and despite some criticism of TDC found Riveroak to be unsuitable as a CPO partner

Kent County Council, who had paid out much tax revenue during the period 1998-2010 final washed their hands of Manston in March 2015 with this summary
In May of 2015 the local elections were dominated by the support for Manston with various parties saying "vote for me and we will reopen the airport" however many of the electorate being sceptical of politicians promises decided to give Chris Wells and the UKIP party and they duly swept to power.
Once hit by the reality of governing they realised that Riveroak were very poor and proving they were actually viable so Chris took the plunge and started the whole process again including a TDC sponsored report from Avia on the viability of aviation at Manston.

Because of the sensitive nature of the report from Avia the UKIP administration decided to ask for public responses and when these were received Avia were asked to produce a final assessment which was published in 2017
Riveroak had by this time decided to forego the CPO route and to use the more demanding DCO route and to argue that reopening Manston would be a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) and had commissioned Dr Sally Dixon to "prove" Manston was viable. This was done in a series of consultation exercises and reports however TDC can only use reports they themselves have commissioned. This means Sally Dixon's work cannot be used and neither can the following reports 2x SHP and one by No Night Flights as posted below.


Bob Bayford and the Tory party should by rights only be making decisions on Land Use based on evidence however it appears that "But Airport" votes seem to be the deciding factor as on the 2nd July 2018 Cabinet endorsed Option 2. This will probably lead to the Ministry at examination finding the Local plan as unsafe.

York Aviation

Altitude Aviation's critique of Azimuth

And last but not least from the executive summary "No Room for Late Arrivals"

Saturday, 23 June 2018

The new Thanet Local Plan

On the 2nd July 2018 the Tory Cabinet meet to discuss what to do with the delayed Local Plan, The agenda for this meeting has been published here however it is 459 pages so I have attempted to condense this into something a bit more practical.

Why is this important to the people of Thanet? It is important because it sets the agenda for the development and growth of Thanet until 2031 and has been delayed since 2011 which has led to the loss of farmland to housing simply because without a 5 year supply of building land any developer being refused planning permission will invariably win on appeal.

On page 7 the 2 options are set out
 Option 1 (which is the option the officers recommend)
It would also vindicate the UKIP administration under Chris Wells which was voted down by 35 members comprising 21 Tories and 14 ex-UKIP defectors.

Option 2

There are several issues and risks associated with option 2 and to highlight these risks annex 3 has been added and will be mentioned in a minute
Firstly the legal protection EC04, which was included in the last Local plan and selected as a saved policy will be removed. It is removed because Thanet holds NO evidence that Manston could be viable as an airport. This will be replaced with "text that recognises the existing (past) (* author's addition) use of the Airport.
Clearly the planners aren't happy with Policy EC04 as they continue "The statement regarding existing use is NOT a policy statement, it is simply a recognition of the current planning status of the site This also means Policy EC04 (and other airport-related policies) would NOT be continued with equivalent policies in the new Local Plan."

In plain English you cannot have a policy without evidence that the policy is sound and this is reflected in Annex 3 Risks
In plain English there is a high chance that if option 2 is adopted and the DCO fails then the plans that Stone Hill Park have already published will happen along with the other allocations. In other words the 3700 houses in the plans submitted will happen ON TOP of the Local Plan

Further this acceptance of option 2 would also mean the removal of the 2500 houses from the Manston site and redistribution to alternate sites as referred to is the document on page 8.
Bearing in mind the difficulty the Planning Department had and the constraints they were working under what does this mean for the residents of Thanet and especially the villages?

Let me make this clear this means Birchington will have 1600 homes, Westgate 2000 and land to the south of Westwood along the Haine Road an additional 1200 (currently over 3000 have already been given Planning Permission some on allocated sites and some granted on appeal because there is no Local Plan). So what does this mean for these sites?



Westwood/Haine Road

So what does this mean for Thanet?

To stroke the egos of 35 Councillors who are supporting an airport which has never turned a profit in 20 years, has had over 100 £million invested in it and to support a failed airport owner who heads a group based in the tax haven of Belize with their DCO, which incidentally failed at the 1st hurdle of even being accepted as a DCO, the people of Thanet are having their village life disrupted for ever to chase a dream.

What does this mean for Stone Hill Park who actually own the land?
In plain English whether the DCO succeeds (doubtful) or not their plans will be shelved until 2031. My opinion is they will not take that lightly and their representation to the Ministry for Housing, Community, and Local Democracy will be "interesting".

Thursday, 28 December 2017

shelling out

I published a blog on the 29th March 2017 (link here) detailing the facts that the ownership of the company that is applying for a Development Consent Order (DCO) on the former Manston site is rather murky and little has changed since. So to clarify where we are today as the DCO, which was due to be placed before National Planning in the Autumn 2017, has been delayed yet again.

The Company, Riveroak Strategic Partners Ltd (RSP Ltd), seems on the face of it to be a Special Purpose Enterprise/ Shell Company with the true ownership hidden away in Belize. See diagram below.
As you can see the ownership is 90% M.I.O. Investments held incognito in the British Territory of Belize. Why you might wonder?
"Said companies are legally mandated to carry out any international transactions as long as they do it by the book. They have certain privileges too, and one of them includes being allowed not to pay taxes within the country of operation. In addition to that, such an institution is not required to disclose the names and contacts of its owners or the intricate details of its operations." Link here
From SHP's solicitors letter dated 13/11/2017

It is also clear that Stone Hill Park (SHP) is clearly losing patience with the ongoing DCO saga which is interfering with the aims of the owners of SHP, Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave, who would like this sorry saga to go away.
From Pinsent Mason's letter to National Planning on 13/11/2017
It is also clear that RSP is sailing close to the wind with Companies House as their recent declaration concerning who exerts "Significant Control" is somewhat confusing.

"The Company knows or has reasonable cause to believe there is no registrable person or registrable legal entity in relation to the Company"

The advice at Companies House clearly states the following:
 Clearly the share ownership says the "legal entity" M.I.O. Investments has 90% ownership of RSP Ltd so why do the legal filing not disclose this fact?

All in all it is apparent that the DCO and who is actually controlling it is cloudy in the extreme and despite this many of the stalwarts in the supporters ranks are discerning enough to ask the appropriate questions. If SHP decide to recover their costs then it is apparent they will struggle to find any assets to claim the monies from as currently it appears RSP have no visible assets.