Manston Airport has been sold to Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave, the regeneration specialists and property developers behind the success of nearby Discovery Park.
Although no purchase price has been made public, the new owners envisage a £1 billion redevelopment of the 800-acre site, over a 20-year period, into a mixed-use scheme with the aspiration to help create more than 4,000 jobs at the former Manston Airport, near Ramsgate.
Announcing the decision, the new owners said any future development would be aimed at providing space for a wide range of businesses, with a special focus on attracting companies in the manufacturing sector, as well as the provision of housing, shops, schools and community facilities.
The purchase by the duo, whose track record includes the regeneration of Wynyard Park in the north-east of England, could undermine the prospect of a CPO by Thanet District Council and the efforts of US property company RiverOak to acquire the Kent site.
The success of Wynyard Park may provide an insight into the future for Manston. Located near Billingham in the North East, Wynyard Park was formed as a joint venture to purchase and develop the site after Samsung vacated it. Having attracted £250 million of private investment, Wynyard Park is now 100% occupied, with 2,000 people employed on site by 60 companies. A phase two is planned which will include 2,500 new homes, a school, hospital and retail development.
With Discovery Park earmarked as an Enterprise Zone (EZ), and it already being the best performing one in the county, it has to be expected that the government will now be lobbied hard to extend the EZ’s financial incentives to include the Manston site.