Kent

Manston Airport site sold for manufacturing and homes

Manston Airport Image copyright PA
Image caption Manston Airport closed in May with the loss of 150 jobs

Manston Airport in Kent has been sold to regeneration specialists who plan to develop the site for manufacturing, housing and schools.

Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave, part of the consortium behind Discovery Park, Sandwich, have bought a majority stake for an undisclosed fee.

They plan a 20-year £1bn redevelopment to "create more than 4,000 jobs".

But Roger Gale, Tory MP for Thanet North, said it sounded "remarkably like opportunist land-banking".

Redevelop 'whole site'

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

Mr Musgrave said: "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.

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Media captionDeveloper Trevor Cartner said the site "used to be an airport"

"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."

Mr Gale said he believed it was in the "national and the local interest" for Manston to remain open as an airfield.

He added: "If he [Trevor Cartner] wishes to pursue that route alongside airport-related industries then he will have my support and 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 in the interests of those that I represent."

Ms Gloag said Mr Cartner and Mr Musgrave were "a credible team with a proven track record in creating high-quality jobs through redevelopment opportunities".

She said: "Their business plan looks thorough, considered and viable and, with the support of the local community, will deliver thousands of local jobs and many community benefits".

'Fantastic track record'

Thanet District Council said it was still considering whether a compulsory purchase of the site, to keep it open as an airport, would be a "viable option" as part of a "wider review of the options for the site".

But in a statement, the council added: "As part of this we would seek further details from the new site owners to understand more about their proposal.

Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council, welcomed Manston's sale to Mr Cartner and Mr Musgrave, describing them as having a "fantastic track record in taking over large and difficult sites following the demise of earlier uses".

He added: "I have every confidence that they can do even more at Manston."

Stephen de Nardo, of US investment firm RiverOak, which had three bids to buy Manston Airport turned down, said he still thought the site should be reopened as an airport.

In a statement, he said RiverOak urged Thanet District Council "to maintain its resolve to compulsorily purchase the site".

The airport was shut after it was revealed it was losing £10,000 a day and offers, that were not "viable or credible", to buy it were rejected.

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