Changes sought after house built near site of navigation aid

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 02/07/2012

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A house was built fewer than 300 metres from a critical air navigation aid in Palmerston North and Airways New Zealand did not know about it.

The corporation is seeking to extend controls over the height and type of buildings within a 600-metre radius of the Doppler VOR.

But it was not aware the neighbouring property that Jeff and Susan Twigge bought from Palmerston North City Council two years ago had been subdivided or that a house had been built there.

An Airways spokeswoman said the corporation did not know Mr Twigge had been granted a building consent.

"And we were concerned that the subdivision consent was granted without having an opportunity to comment," she said.

"Ordinarily, Airways supports the rights of landowners to do what they want on their property, but if it impacts on the safety of the flying public, we need to take action," she said.

The land, formerly part of the Linklater Block, was granted subdivision consent in August 2009.

It was divided into two rural lots. The 4.4-hectare lot had a building site specified as part of the consent, and that is where the Twigges have put their house.

The property was sold to help pay for development of the balance as the Linklater Reserve.

The commissioner's decision shows that Palmerston North Airport was identified as the only affected party that needed to be notified about the subdivision application.

It was affected because part of the 30ha block being subdivided was within the air noise zone.

There are controls within the zone that protect airport operations from becoming the subject of complaints from neighbours about noise.

Airways, which owns the Doppler VOR that sits just over the fence from the two subdivided lots, was not informed about the non-complying subdivision application.

City council head of planning services Russell O'Leary said there was a designation over the land where the Doppler VOR sits.

"But the subdivision was outside the designated area, so there was no need to contact Airways," he said.

Airways wrote to the city council in 2010 pointing out that the controls on land use surrounding the navigation site, which were part of its designation, had not been fully included in the District Plan.

The controls included height restrictions and banned any metallic structures apart from low wire fences within a 100-metre radius, and any metal clad buildings within a 200-metre radius. It asked for the omission to be rectified.

In a review of designations due to be publicly notified as part of the sectional review of the District Plan, Airways wants to extend the controls.

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It would mean the Twigges could not build anything higher than eight metres anywhere on the property, or any metallic or conducting building more than five metres in height.

Mr O'Leary said it would have been the responsibility of the subdivision consent holder (the council) to tell the purchaser about controls that existed at the time of the sale.

Mr Twigge said he was not informed, and did not ask for a Land Information Memo, and said he accepted it was a case of "buyer beware".

But he would fight the imposition of any further controls on how he could use his land.

- Manawatu Standard

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