Sunday, 29 January 2012

Night Flight Consultation Response

It is astonishing that in the 21st century a substantial installation such as Manston Airport should continue to exist on the basis of planning loopholes. Namely, Certificates of Lawful Development (LDCs) which only establish that a certain planning use was subsisting at the time of granting the certificates. To intensify such a use over succeeding decades must surely be brought into question and subjected to open scrutiny in the form of application for planning permission.

Planning legislation states that “intensification“ can only be the grounds for a planning application if a “material change of use” can be proved.  In the case of Manston Airport the “intensification” is in the form of a night flying proposal which proposes to increase the number of flights landing between 11pm and 6 am. The stated use of such flights is to provide an opportunity for out of hours freight flights.

Passenger operations at the airfield are currently declining from the withdrawal of scheduled flights to Manchester and Belfast, followed by a withdrawal of the only remaining scheduled service at the airport, the Edinburgh route operated by FlyBe, coinciding with an announcement by Flybe that it will be ceasing operations from Manston in March 2012. With the reduction of passenger flights and an increase in freight flights, Manston Airport is changing from a commercial airport with freight services, as stated in their Master-plan and the original LDCs, to a freight airport with occasional passenger flights.  Each of these uses would fall separately into the “Sui Generis” planning use category and therefore constitute a “material change of use”.

A simple example can illustrate this fact. If a developer purchases an assembly room, normally used for the congregation of people and decides to change it into a storage warehouse for the congregation of goods, this would constitute a “material change of use” Thanet District Council is therefore within it's rights to insist on the submission of a planning application in support of the night flight proposal to examine the material change of use constituted by the intensified use of the airport for handling freight.

It is incumbent upon the local authority to take back the high ground in this planning matter at a crucial point in the evolution of Manston Airport. Unless this substantial installation which affects the lives of so many people in Thanet, is subjected to the same planning scrutiny as the normal householder, the impartiality of the local authority will always be under question.

A planning application in this matter would provide a suitable platform for the transparent examination of night flights, intensification, change of use, noise nuisance, noise monitoring, pollution, pollution monitoring, airport safety zones and the effectiveness of controlling an airport using a 106 agreement. This is what is necessary to satisfy affected local residents that their legitimate rights and concerns have been adequately considered.

Name of respondent………………………………………..

DUMMIES guide to employment in Thanet

Don't be a "Tester" at Dreamland.


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Planning Loopholes.

Ramsgate is in the invidious position of being sandwiched between two planning loopholes and both affect commercial operations surrounding the town. The difference in the local population’s attitude to these is remarkable.

Port Ramsgate is constructed on reclaimed land and a great percentage of UK foreshore below High Water Mark is owned by Crown Estates, it is therefore exempt planning permission. One just rings up HM and says “Can I build here Maam” and she replies “One will consult the flunkies” and that’s it you construct a wind farm or two. Not quite that simple but you get the picture.  Ramsgate town seems quite unfazed about this and the London Array building sprang up with hardly a murmur in the local media or blogsphere. Everyone is happy.

The other planning loophole is Manston Airport which has been surviving on a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) since its conversion to civil use from a military base in the late 1990’s. A 106 agreement was negotiated at the time but with one of the parties to the agreement having the backing of the Ministryof Defence (MoD) the cards were somewhat stacked in favour of “driving a tank” through inconvenient regulations. I think TDC officers were probably held to ransom until they said “yes”, metaphorically speaking of course.

And so to the present day, night flights are proposed and we find out that no approval is required for them to commence. The pro-airport camp say “If you didn’t want aircraft noise day and night, you should have done your homework and not moved to Ramsgate, as the airport was here first,  we put up with it in the war when US jets flew day and night”.  Well, I have news for them. The war is over and times have moved on. Not only that but Ramsgate town predates aviation and has unique tourist features which would be ruined by jumbo jets overhead every 10 minutes. The Royal Harbour is unique in the UK, disused war time airfields are two a penny in SE England.

The people of Thanet really do have to decide what sort of environment they want for the future, overstated job opportunities from an unpopular under-used airport or numerous options to attract fresh tourism, with job opportunities, to this beautiful corner of Kent. I have always kept an open mind about the pros and cons of having a local international airport, but the more I learn about the facts of the situation and the misinformation being spouted, the more I think it would make a great site for Center Parcs.


No, this is not a new type of TV or computer screen. Many of you may have happened upon this abbreviation whilst reading the planning section of the consultants report commissioned by Thanet District Council about night flying proposals at Manston airport. The abbreviation stands for Lawful Development Certificate and is issued by a local authority when an applicant requests such a certificate based on a use which has been  established for at least 10 years and is subsisting on a site. The local authority is obliged to issue such a certificate if the necessary conditions are met.

This goes a long way to explaining the current unsatisfactory planning situation at Kent International Airport. Faced with a declining military use for Manston airport the Ministry of Defence applied for LDCs to support the changeover to civilian use, which had been happening in some parts of the airport in parallel with the military use. Faced with such an influential applicant, I think TDC conceded their position and relied on a loosely drafted 106 agreement in an attempt to control the situation.

Under normal circumstances an established use LDC and a 106 agreement would be sufficient to control any future development proposals. However in the case of night flights this is only an increase in traffic movements, not really a planning matter, as “intensification” can only be controlled if a material change of use can be proved. The 106 agreement does not even require approval of a night flying policy only that one is submitted prior to commencement. It therefore follows that Manston can commence night flying tomorrow, having submitted a policy, hence night flying for the Olympics and maybe after.

Infratil is not advertising this loophole however, because airport expansion inevitably requires new buildings.(see picture above). Any new building on the airfield will require full planning permission, which is best wrapped up in glossy expansion plans with a promise of many jobs to mask the transition from their established use on LDC, to expansion requiring planning permission.

For those of you interested in this subject you may like to read a previous post of mine on the same subject here, it would appear now that I was not in possession of the full facts at the time and the title should have read "Night Flying Consultation UNNECESSARY!"

Friday, 20 January 2012

Port Masterplan 2011

The Ramsgate Port and Royal Harbour Masterplan  2011 is to be discussed by the Cabinet Advisory Group on 26 January 2012. The plan is available to view here.

It is quite a good document which is directing Ramsgate waterfront in the right direction, it draws on some outdated planning policies but makes no reference to the long awaited Core Strategy document which seems to have disappeared into oblivion

The section on the Ramsgate Slipways is rather ambiguous, leaving the door open for some sort of development on the site

More pedestrianisation is recommended, with a rationalisation of car parking to reduce its impact on Military Road, Smeaton's Crosswall, Harbour Parade and Pier Yard. An events space is recommended for Pier Yard.and an improved pedestrian space at the Harbour Street / Harbour Parade road crossing.

Rationalisation of land in the New Port area is a welcome sign for maximising the commercial potential of the non-historical part of the port, including extending commercial opportunities onto the undercliffe area on the landward side of the port.

The document brings together most of the items which have been discussed in a fragmented way about the Port and Royal Harbour and is a good framework for taking forward a viable business model for the area.

It recognises the need for a prestigious building between the Western end of the Royal Harbour and the New Port and hopefully paves the way for something along the lines of the following sketch.
Inclusion of residential accommodation in the harbour is still mentioned but this should be treated with great caution as on many occasions objections about noise etc, by relatively new residents has forced the closure of long established commercial enterprises to the overall detriment to an area. Any residential development should be strictly controlled and only allowed in conjunction with a commercial and related marine use.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Mary Whitehouse

The “Blogging Hell” article on Big News Margate referring to yet another “disappeared” post at Worrow’s World, reminded me very much of the Mary Whitehouse days. Mary (now deceased) was a self styled “guardian of good standards” on TV. We now have a similar proposal for blogging and whilst I agree that bloggers must be ever vigilant for offensive material and comments, the current Thanet blogging scene is quite harmless and far less corruptible than many internet sites.

I remember that a “girlie” magazine received the title “Whitehouse” for obvious reasons, don’t think I will go there!

Whilst looking through other blogs I came across the “Lost Letter office” at Margate35mm and couldn’t resist posting the above photo which I snapped sometime ago, the sign has now been removed, but then this is “Fannit” and perhaps Ofsted complained

I totally agree with the sentiments expressed on Margate35mm that the best way of dealing with graffiti etc is to remove it immediately, perhaps that’s what has happened to Worrow’s World.

It occurred to me that with all these disappearing posts we may have a "Fannit Triangle" and they will all reappear at Roswell in 2045, just a thought.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Who nobbles the BBC?

Couldn’t resist the cartoon, following today’s news from Thanetland but I thought I would write about something interesting (to me)

I spend time in France regularly, so the “ EURO  crisis” is of interest to me and I keep a watchful eye on exchange rates. The BBC News 6pm  tonight (Friday 13th Jan 2012), headline  was “Euro in free fall as Euro crisis deepens”,   Hearing such news and with a  European trip imminent, I eagerly checked the Euro to GBP exchange rate only to find it had dropped only about 0.03p. Hardly anything to get worked up about but it suited the BBC because they went on to say that France’s Triple A” rating was in danger of being down graded.

Funnily enough in the previous week the BBC had been outraged by a French Minister’s comment that the economies of France and Britain had a similar fragility and that if France was downgraded, Britain shouldn’t be far behind. Looking at the exchange rate history I would say the French Minister certainly has got a point. 10years ago the Euro started life and was worth 62p, over the succeeding years the Euro has consistently gained strength against the pound, a few weeks ago a Euro was worth nearly 90p and since then it has been in slow decline to 82.5p, its present value. This is hardly a crash as suggested by the BBC, to bolster their story about the possible downgrading.

It is a great pity that we only get a very biased and one sided version of a story which seems designed to keep us all oblivious of the dire situation throughout the whole Western hemisphere INCLUDING BRITAIN.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Royal Sands – For Sale.

Brochures offering flats for sale in the Royal Sands development are available at the Visitor Information Centre in the Custom House, Ramsgate and details are also available on-line (here) an interesting website which claims that 15 flats have already been reserved and will be ready for occupation in the Autumn of 2013. I think that is a rather optimistic estimate but I suppose the construction programme can be speeded if or when sufficient demand has been realized. Anyway it will be good to see the end of a prominent building site “next year”

For those of you who are interested and have the necessary wonka the prices are quoted as:                          Prices
                                        1 Bedroom Apartments from £185,000
                                        2 Bedroom Apartments from £245,000
                                        3 Bedroom Apartments from £335,000
                                           Roof Top Apartments from £435,000

Just £2000 secures your dream property, plus two stage payments before completion.

One slightly surprising aspect of the very prestigious printed brochure is that nowhere does it mention the name of the development company. You would think that when offering such a prestigious development to the world, a developer would want to take maximum credit for the project, with maybe a “Barratt’s helicopter” or two.  Is this a job for the frying Doc.?

Anyway the website is overflowing with information about the developer and here it is in its entirety

The Developers – SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd.
The Developers for the Royal Sands development are SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd a UK based Commercial and Residential Development Company with experience in mixed schemes in both the UK and overseas.
And there was me thinking it was an off-shore company – should be possible to identify the directors now, anyone interested can start HERE.
I would love to know where their overseas developments are???