Since the Kent and Medway Structure plan has fallen away due to the issue of the South East Plan, there is no longer any future development protection for Rochester Airport.
Previously the future of the airport was assured by the publication of the replacement core document for the Local Plan called the LDF (Local Development Framework). This document, which was a joint development framework between Kent and Medway, is still published on the Kent and Medway official website :- Local Planning Development framework Section 8.61 and Policy TP26. This gave the airport some protection for the duration of the planning framework until 2021.
This document has now been superseded by the South East Plan but no mention appears to have been made specifically of Rochester Airport, only this:-
“8.30 The Air Transport White Paper highlighted the important role that small airports can play in providing access to air services that reduce the pressure on the main airports, particularly in the period before a new runway in the South East is built. In addition to the potential previously identified for Southampton Airport, the potential of Kent International Airport to fulfil an enhanced role as a regional airport is also acknowledged. Other smaller airports could play a valuable role in meeting local demand and contributing to regional economic development. Subject to relevant environmental considerations, their development should be supported, and regional and local planning frameworks should consider policies which facilitate growth at these airports.”
Re-assurance has now been given in a letter from Medway Council's Director of Regeneration that’s says:-
“RAPlc and BAe systems are working with the Medway Regeneration Arm and these plans will take full account of the existing current general aviation activity and the views of the company.”
So there we are - Policy S11 in the old Medway Local Plan has gone - this threatened the airport with complete development, and there are now NO specific plans to redevelop the site, although it is still within the defined urban boundary of Medway.
Perhaps its time the boundary was changed and responsibility given back to Tonbridge and Malling council since the southern part of the airport, the end with buildings on, is within their local authority boundary.
1st Feb 2010