Council wants answers from Ali Williams, Anna Mowbray on helicopter application

Auckland Council has sought more information about ex-All Black Ali Williams and toy billionaire Anna Mowbray’s waterfront home helicopter application.

Ecological, acoustic and general issues were raised and if answers were not provided, could result in a $20,000 fee from public notification, a council senior planner said of the Westmere proposal.

The couple last year applied to develop a helicopter landing and takeoff pad at their new Auckland property.

In November, the council got the application from Mark Benjamin, principal planner at town planning and resource consent specialists Mt Hobson Group.

Benjamin said he was applying on behalf of the couple who wanted to develop a take-off and landing helicopter pad at their residential property.

The senior planner asked Benjamin to say a lot more before any decision could be reached on whether the resource consent application would be granted.

How long a helicopter would take to get from the ground to 150m, how Cox’s Bay recreational users would be affected and a plan showing the proposed helipad location were sought.

“The ways any adverse effects might be mitigated” needed to be addressed.

A full ecological assessment prepared by a qualified professional should be submitted. That should identify the potential and actual effects on the ecological values of the area resulting from helicopter movements to and from the site, Benjamin was told.

The rock shelf which is a known significant local roost for pied oystercatchers was singled out for special mention. Effects on that area that needed to be covered off in that ecological assessment.

Benjamin had already submitted an acoustic assessment prepared by Hegley Acoustic Consultants and effects on the environment and statutory assessment were included in the application.

The pad is to be built on the almost half-hectare Westmere site of 4530sq m on a coastal headland that juts into a coastal marine area.

In 2020, the couple spent $24 million buying the property, previously owned by film director Andrew Adamson.

The Herald reported on the couple’s application to demolish a 12-year-old house on the site and replace it with a three-level home with a subterranean basement.

The council now wants to know why the couple’s new home was not included in noise modelling because such structures do have an effect on acoustics.

The senior planner also asked how long it would take for helicopters to get from the ground to the 500ft mark.

How Cox’s Bay kite surfers and sailors might be affected by the helicopter movements should also be answered.

A plan identifying the helipad location would be helpful too, the planner said.

How planting around the new house could interfere with helicopter movements also needed to be answered. That should show plants at the time they went in as well as when they were mature.

How noise would impact other neighbours was another issue so noise contours should be provided to show the potential effects on those to the northwest is sought.

Further information on noise modelling and the “assumed duration” of a helicopter’s arrival and departure sequences were also sought.

Time is of the essence.

“If you refuse to provide the information, or if you do not submit the information to us within 15 days or by another other agreed time, the Resource Management Act requires that we publicly notify your application. If this happens, you will be required to pay the notification fee of $20,000 in full before we proceed with the notification of your application,” the senior planner wrote.

Contacted to ask about the helipad application last year, Mowbray said: “I really don’t want to be making any public comment about what is actually our private family home.”

Neighbours have raised concerns: Westmere resident Leni Ma’ia’i and Grace Mirams found their quiet enjoyment interrupted when a 12-year-old house on the site was demolished.

Trucks turning and backing, noise, vibrations and parts of their street being blocked during works caused stress and sleeplessness, they said.

“We only moved here in July,” Ma’ia’i said of them leaving Karangahape Rd’s ongoing construction.

They are now worried about the effects of a helicopter taking off and landing near their home at what Mowbray calls AJ Point. They said no one had approached them to discuss it and if they had an opportunity to, they would object to it.

Chris Darby, an Auckland councillor, says the couple should go to Mechanics Bay if they want to use a helicopter.

“Personally I don’t know why the applicants don’t just get themselves 7km down the road to the Mechanics Bay Heliport,” Darby said last year.

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