New rules to keep airport safe

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 07:28 31/03/2014
palmerston north airport

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Buildings and activities that would attract large gatherings of people are likely to be banned within 750 metres of either end of the Palmerston North Airport runway.

The runway protection areas are being proposed to reduce the dangers if aircraft undershoot or overshoot the runway.

The restrictions are among a raft of draft changes to the city's District Plan that have been put out for feedback before formal plan changes are proposed.

City council policy planner Michael Duindam said the restrictions were likely to emerge as one of the most significant proposals affecting land use around the airport.

They were based on controls widely used in the United States, and spreading throughout Western countries.

"We know that if accidents are going to happen, they are much more likely in these areas.

"There have been some horrible accidents overseas where aircraft have crashed on takeoff or landing.

"It's about recognising the risk, and trying to keep people safe."

Duindam said the new restrictions would apply to buildings, a range of activities that could interfere with safe landings and takeoffs such as orchards that attracted birds, or any mass assembly of people.

Golf was acceptable, and existing homes, buildings and activities would enjoy existing rights to continue.

The District Plan does not at this stage include the possible future extension of the western end of the runway from 1900 to 2500 metres long.

However, the airport owns and has a designation over the land that would be needed if the extension went ahead.

Duindam said the airport had been recognised as a sufficiently important regional and national facility to warrant its own section of the city's District Plan.

Walker said protecting the air noise contours - to avoid complaints about airport noise that could lead to calls for restrictions or curfews - was vital.

"We rely on our operations being able to operate 24/7. It is critical to us and to the region."

Duindam said the future appearance of Airport Drive as a gateway to Palmerston North was important, and new design rules were proposed to make sure it looked good.

International urban strategist Charles Landry, who visited Palmerston North last year to rate and advise on how to become a more creative city, was critical of the first impressions created on the road trip from the airport into town.

New design rules would avoid the building of blank walls up against the road, or the creation of car parks in front of buildings. There would need to be windows in buildings and landscaping requirements.

Information about the raft of proposed planning changes is on the council's website.

Planners will be available to field questions and receive feedback at two open days at the Palmerston North Convention Centre on Tuesday, April 8 and Wednesday, April 9.

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- Manawatu Standard

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