Auckland councillor and planning committee chairman Chris Darby can’t understand why a Westmere couple wants a helicopter pad at their new house when a city heliport isn’t far away.
He was commenting on ex-All Black Ali Williams and Zuru billionaire Anna Mowbray lodging the application this month.
Darby said a commercial helicopter terminal wasn’t far from Westmere.
“Personally I don’t know why the applicants don’t just get themselves 7km down the road to the Mechanics Bay Heliport,” Darby said.
The council this month received the application from Mark Benjamin, principal planner at town planning and resource consent specialists Mt Hobson Group, applying on behalf of the couple who want a take-off and landing pad at their residential property which they bought last year for $24 million.
Darby cited the convenience of the commercial waterfront heliport at 1 Solent St, off Tamaki Dr at Judges Bay in Parnell.
“Just 10 minutes away, it’s there to serve the needs of those who find the need to chopper about the place and not exactly inconveniently located,” said Darby, one of two North Shore councillors.
He did not say whether he thought the couple should drive, bike or get public transport to Mechanics Bay but Darby is a strong public transport advocate and a cyclist.
Anna Mowbray said yesterday she did not want to comment on the helicopter application because it was for her private home.
Auckland Mechanics Bay Heliport says it is “only five minutes from downtown… simply the easiest and most central location to use. Come and enjoy our customer lounge which has spectacular views across the harbour and towards the city. Parking is available for Helicopter Me customers.”
Councillor Pippa Coom, a Planning Committee member, said she was dealing directly with Quiet Sky Waiheke, battling a number of applications on the island.
Her update to the lobby group about those applications “equally applies to the Williams/Mowbray application”, she said today.
That indicated a process was to be followed with council officers undertaking its statutory functions and “assessing any application against the operative planning provisions and under the framework of the Resource Management Act to arrive at its decision on a consent.
“In this regard it must be highlighted that there is currently no statutory provision to refuse a consent before it has been assessed,” Coom told Quiet Sky Waiheke.
“Auckland Council planners are currently working through the requests made by the Waiheke Local Board as part of their July notice of motion on helicopter consents. This information will be reported back to the Waiheke Local Board and the Planning Committee at their November meetings,” Coom said today.
Waiheke Island Local Board chairwoman Cath Handley has said there was an issue of “virtually unregulated” helicopter activity over the island.
Coom said the most recent update was on October 18. Further information might emerge this month.
“A resource consent application for 345 Gordons Rd was recently submitted to Auckland Council. The application seeks council approval to use an area on the 6ha rural property as helicopter landing and take-off platform,” Coom said.
An initial review of the documentation found further information was required to process this application. The application is now on hold while the council awaits this information from the applicant.
No decisions have yet been made, she stressed.
The council can’t stop people from applying for certain activities on their private property, she stressed.
“Rather councils are legally obliged to process all resource consent applications received, regardless of what they propose,” Coom said.
An island vineyard’s application was also being investigated.
“The Obsidian application is currently on hold while new information provided by the applicant is reviewed. Once council planners are satisfied the application has all the necessary information it will start processing. No decisions have been made,” Coom said.
There was nothing more she could do at this stage, she said.
On July 21, the Waiheke Local Board has requested a report from council staff on a chopper crackdown.
It asked about options to increase control over helicopter pad numbers being consented, their locations, numbers of flights per helicopter pad and means to manage cumulative effects.
“This also relates to nuisance and the protection, promotion and maintenance of public health and safety,” the board’s notice said.
It wants the council’s Planning Committee to endorse a change in the assessment criteria for new helipad consents on the island to enable public notification of all helipad consent applications so those directly affected in the vicinity and on projected flight paths can make submissions.
The notice of motion from the board is also seeking for the council to widen the assessment of the effects of helicopter flights, takeoffs and landings on the wider community and the amenity values of Waiheke and the rights of residents to the quiet enjoyment of their property.
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