Well first here is the email:
The office of Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave
Wynyard Park House
Tees Valley TS22 5TB
Tel: 01740 661000
12th December 2014
FORMER MANSTON AIRPORT
We have noted that yesterday evening TDC's Cabinet reached the conclusion that no suitable partner has been identified who can clearly demonstrate an ability to fund the compulsory purchase and subsequent commercial operation of an airport at Manston.
This decision is commendable, particularly in light of the appalling bullying and abusive behaviour of many of the supporters of the intended operator. The Cabinet's decision also accords with legal advice received by ourselves which is that the chances of TDC achieving a successful CPO outcome were remarkably slim and that the financial losses to the council would have been huge.
We also note that an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council is taking place on Tuesday, 16 December "to consider and debate its position on Manston Airport taking into account all possible proposals". No papers have been posted on the council's website so we are unaware of the course this discussion will take. We would, however, like to briefly restate our intended approach to this site.
We anticipate that the site will be redeveloped for a number of different uses. Without being prescriptive, and fully accepting that any change of use requires planning permission, we see the mix including employment space complemented by appropriate housing, education, sports, community and other facilities. We are confident of creating some 4,000 jobs over a 20 year period. Overall, we wish the site to become an engine for the transformation of Thanet's economy, lifting it to become a major player on a national and potentially international scale. We believe Thanet deserves nothing less.
We have actually run out of space at Discovery Park for large new buildings and in trying to preserve its character as a science and office park we require somewhere to create a manufacturing park to meet current and future requirements. Opportunities to acquire sites of 800 acres are few and far between and we decided that the Manston site was ideal for our needs, being close to our existing base, superbly well-connected by road and with the promise of a new Parkway station linking it to London via HS1.
We are already in talks with two new companies who, if we succeed in securing them, will bring an initial 300 jobs. This is about twice the number of jobs lost when the airport closed.
Research into "best in class" developments
Work is currently underway to identify the best mixed-used developments around the world. We hope to conclude this research by the end of January, the results of which will be discussed with TDC. From this, we will start to devise the outline of our proposals and once again these will be discussed with TDC and your views reflected.
We have already published our provisional timetable for consulting the people of Thanet, the majority of whom we believe support our approach. Two main events are proposed, one in the spring when our initial plans will be revealed and another in the summer when revised proposals that reflect feedback from the spring event will be published for further consultation. Throughout this process there will be regular dialogue with TDC at Member and appropriate Officer level.Does aviation form any part of our proposals?
The former airport, like many small regional airports, suffered from a high cost base with too few passenger flights and a freight operation which was hampered by a ban on night-time flights. The fact is that without significant subsidy the airport doesn’t function as a business. The airport had already closed before we bought the site and there is no credible business case to reopen it.
Set against these facts, we recognise there is a lot of local feeling and a rich history attached to the site, which we respect. Indeed, we have already gifted the freehold of the site on which the Spitfire and Hurricane Museum stands to that body and we have offered to look at options for building a new facility for the RAF Museum.
Do we have a track record of success?
Wynyard Park started off as a derelict manufacturing site after Samsung transferred its operations to the Czech Republic. It is now home to more than 2,000 workers, is growing at a steady and sustainable pace and has around 60 tenants of all shapes and sizes. This has been achieved without a single penny of public subsidy.
Discovery Park is the site of the former Pfizer operation. Pfizer removed most (but not all) of their people before we acquired the site in July 2012 with around 650 employees remaining, but at a significant risk of being lost in the following months. We announced a target of 3,000 jobs within 5 years and, whilst we knew that was ambitious, we now have around 2,200 jobs in 28 months, all working for the 102 companies already on site and with several more poised to sign. We expect to reach 3,000 ahead of target and our long-term strategy works towards achieving 5,000. Recent research has shown that 86% of employees at Discovery Park live in East Kent, so these truly are local jobs for local people.
We have been open and honest with everyone we have met in Kent. Whilst it would have been very easy to pretend that we were looking at the site as an airport, only to announce within a couple of years that there was no business case, we prefer to be transparent with our intentions. We genuinely believe we can bring jobs and prosperity to East Kent by creating a good place to work both for employers and employees and by forging links with education providers and training organisations to close the "skills gap".
Our way is not to bang drums, issue threatening letters or send abusive emails, but to work respectfully and courteously with a range of public, private and voluntary organisations to achieve lasting benefits for Thanet. We very much look forward to working positively with the Council for many years to come.
Chris Musgrave & Trevor Cartner
Not sure how that will format in the blog post anyway here is the ramble.
I have to say that I am becoming increasingly surprised by the lack of support for the new owners of The Manston Airport site from local politicians. Anyway here is their website http://www.wynyardpark.com/ it comes up when you put Wynyard Park into Google.
I suppose most of my reservations about the cpo have always been based on what comes up when you put RiverOak Investments into Google particularly the two websites http://www.riveroakic.com/ and http://www.riveroakinvestments.co.uk/ the first and obvious question being why are they not linked together?
I will ramble on here and come back to Manston in a bit, my bookshop hasn’t been as busy today, maybe due to the weather although I noticed that Ramsgate doesn’t seem to have been so busy during the last few days.
Our internet orders seem to have peaked during the beginning of this week and I guess that internet orders for Christmas must be tailing off for everyone.
I had assumed that people were doing their shopping out of town but when we went to Westwood Cross this evening it was very quiet too, no problem parking and getting a table next to the balcony with an armchair.
Here is the sketch from there.
Back to Manston Airport. As I say something strange here; I could understand the fringe of local politics perhaps not supporting an enterprise like this, but the antics of the last few weeks defies understanding. So an open question to all of our local politicians; do any of you actually support the new owners?