Air, Freight News

Blow to Manston reopening hopes

[ September 23, 2014   //   ]

Manston Airport has been sold to a regeneration company that plans to develop it for non-aviation use. Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave, part of the consortium behind Discovery Park, Sandwich, have bought a majority stake for an undisclosed fee, the BBC reported. The site was bought by transport magnate Ann Gloag, who co-founded the Stagecoach Group, for £1 last October but it closed in May in the face of continued losses. The airport was a populare hub with full freight operators but had been suffering from a loss of business, reflecting the downturn in that segment of the airfreight market.

Chris Musgrave was reported as saying that the new owners hoped to comprehensively redevelop the whole site to create a mixed-use community, in light of the fact that the airport had closed and all the equipment sold. He added: “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, They plan a 20-year £1bn redevelopment to “create more than 4,000 jobs”.

But Roger Gale, Tory MP for Thanet North, said that the plan appeared to be “remarkably like opportunist land-banking” and that it was in the “national and the local interest” for Manston to remain open as an airfield.

The BBC rerported him as saying: “If he [Trevor Cartner] wishes to pursue that route alongside airport-related industries then he will have my support and that if he wishes to tear up the airfield and smother the land in industrial premises that can and should be located elsewhere in Thanet, or to assist Ms Gloag in the realisation of her plan to create a significant housing development, then I shall oppose his plans.”

Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council, was more positive, describing the new owners as having a “fantastic track record in taking over large and difficult sites following the demise of earlier uses”.


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