Published 6 June 2011
Auckland Council commissioners have approved a private helipad on a Greenhithe lifestyle block just off the new State Highway 18.
The application had 18 opponents on grounds such as noise & privacy, but a neighbour who didn’t oppose online medical publisher Philip Thornton’s application, Dale Turkington, said he was more concerned about the noise generated from traffic on the new motorway at the bottom of the valley.
Acoustic reports showed his property would be most affected from flights on the primary flight path, but Mr Turkington said the effects & noise from the helicopter wouldn’t be an issue for him due to the low numbers of flights.
Hearing commissioners Alan Watson (chairman), Alan Bradbourne & Bill Smith gave their approval on 23 May for the helipad at 312 Upper Harbour Drive, Greenhithe, for up to 4 non-commercial helicopter flights/week (4 arrivals & 4 departures, no more than 2 of each on any one day).
Philip & Karen Thornton own an 11.64ha property on the north-western side of Upper Harbour Drive which has relatively steep pasture and pockets of bush. It descends towards the recently completed section of State Highway 18 through Greenhithe.
Council planner Zita Talaic recommended the application. She said in her report for the hearing consent was required because the establishment of a helipad & associated helicopter flights wasn’t specifically listed as an activity within the area A: mixed environmental (Greenhithe) zone, making it a non-complying activity.
Ms Talaic said other areas in the former North Shore City made provision for helicopters – Okura in its residential expansion & rural zones, Albany in its business 9 & 10 zones and Paremoremo in its rural zone.
The commissioners said in their decision: “We consider that, due to the site location & characteristics, the proposed flight paths, the low frequency of flights/week or /day and the short duration of the helicopter noise, the aural amenity of the surrounding area will remain largely unaltered during the course of any given day.”
3 factors which the commissioners said differentiated this site were its size & configuration, providing significant separation from neighbours; a primary flight path that avoided neighbours because it was almost entirely over the undeveloped rural site; and the proposed location of the helipad on one of the highest points in the area, allowing for easier navigation and for attaining the minimum overflying altitude of 1000ft quickly.
The Thorntons own Drugsite Ltd & Woolshed New Media Ltd and, through the Drugsite Trust, operate US website Drugs.com, which says it’s “the largest, most widely visited, independent medicine information website available on the internet”. They also operate Question.com.
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Attribution: Hearing decision, online checks, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.