NEWS: Wellington’s Miramar Golf Club could see half its land gobbled up by the airport in three years

Picture: MAARTEN HOLL

Wellington Airport’s increasing demands for more space means it is looking at taking a big chunk of the Miramar Golf Club’s land. Miramar Golf Club could see half its land gone in as little as three years due to the expansion of  Wellington Airport. Wellington International Airport Ltd revealed provisional expansion plans at the golf club on Monday night, prompting some club members to call the extension a fait accompli. A need for more aeroplane parking space was the biggest driver, but new civil aviation rules requiring additional luggage screening techniques also contributed to demands for more space.

Wellington Airport chief commercial officer Matt Clarke and infrastructure general manager John Howarth present early ...

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Wellington Airport chief commercial officer Matt Clarke and infrastructure general manager John Howarth present early plans for the airport expansion.

The airport has the power to buy land as it sees fit, under the Public Works Act, but this could be appealed in court. 

READ MORE:
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Airport chief commercial officer Matt Clarke said future designs had to be able to cope with the “busy hour” when highest air traffic occurred.

On the plan the purple area, which encroaches on golf course land, will be devoted to aircraft parking. The blue area is ...

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On the plan the purple area, which encroaches on golf course land, will be devoted to aircraft parking. The blue area is the new multi-storey car park. The yellow area is the existing terminal, and the red area will be needed for aviation support. Club members asked why the airport couldn’t simply spread out arrivals and departures to ease the demand. Clarke responded that many flights were coming from overseas, and the airport couldn’t dictate arrival times. “If you want to stay competitive with other airports and other places and other cities you have to provide for the growth in travel when people want to travel.”

A separate slide shows the airport extension expected to come into effect on the Western Apron.

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A separate slide shows the airport extension expected to come into effect on the Western Apron.

On the plan a large purple area, which encroached on golf course land, would be devoted to aircraft parking, as well as catering, cargo, aviation security, apron access and fuel facilities. A proposed new road, marked with a black dotted line, ran through the existing course. Clarke said the airport had investigated possible locations where the golf club could be moved to, but hadn’t found any suitable sites. If a good location was found, the company would consider helping with the relocation. Members of the club accused  the company of purposefully building itself into a corner, making expansion on to the course the only option.
New CT scanners for checked luggage will also likely prompt the expansion of the airport terminal to the south.

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New CT scanners for checked luggage will also likely prompt the expansion of the airport terminal to the south.

“You create that congestion and then you tell us we have to stop playing golf to accommodate it,” one man said.

Airport infrastructure general manager John Howarth said when Wellington Airport’s 110-hectare site was compared with Auckland’s 1600ha footprint, it was clear the operation was running on “a postage stamp”. He said two major things had changed since the 2030 Master Plan was written in 2009.

Airport infrastructure general manager John Howarth points out the area in purple, which would likely be taken from the ...

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Airport infrastructure general manager John Howarth points out the area in purple, which would likely be taken from the Miramar golf course.

The first was  that most airlines were opting for larger planes which legally required larger parking spaces. 

“If you go back to 2009 the average number of seats on planes going to Auckland and across the Tasman was about 130, and if you look at the aircraft that we have up there at the moment that’s more than 170,” he said. Competition had already increased, with ever smaller players such as Sounds Air jumping from three aircraft in 2009 to 10 now. New security requirements would also meant the extension of some airport buildings.

“The requirement for CT-scanners to meet the European Civil Aviation Standard is significantly greater in terms of area and size. We cannot fit this within our existing footprint … We’ve investigated the area needed, which is about 3000 square metres, and determined the only place we can supply that is to the south of the terminal, and we need to deliver that by 2022.” There may also be new requirements for the scanning of carry-on luggage. An airport extension would require changes to the District Plan.

Some members of the audience asked how the Wellington City Council, which owns 34 per cent of the airport, could be responsible for making changes to the District Plan. Clarke said if there were a conflict of interest an independent commissioner would be brought in to consider the council’s decision. Golf club member Kevin Banaghan said it was up to the club to consider all the options – including the price offered for the land – and decide on the best option for the future.

 – Stuff

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7 thoughts on “NEWS: Wellington’s Miramar Golf Club could see half its land gobbled up by the airport in three years

  1. Surely the time is right for WIAL to seriously consider an alternative site for an airport. The proposed extension will without doubt cost a great deal more than the estimated $300 million by now let alone when and if proceeds.
    Then there is the doubtful expense relating to the RESA’s. It doesn’t stop here as the greed factor is now winner take all. The Miramar Golf Course is ripe for plucking and according to the recent presentation, the Airport cannot operate without the land on the east of Stewart Duff Drive. Consider the overall cost of all these dreams and it doesn’t take too much imagination for mouthwatering millions of dollars to mount up. Suggested alternative sites such Te Horo or Ohakea must surely be worthwhile considerations without throwing good money after bad. The current site for operations is decidedly unsuitable for further development. The postage size area that resembles an airport is unworthy of a return on investment to its shareholders!

  2. Would it not be easier for the Golf Club to move? A new airport will cost $2 Billion plus and then you need to upgrade the transport infrastructure again with a $ Billion dollar price tag. Presumably you will be happy to drive to Ohakea to get your flight to Auckland or Christchurch?

  3. Thanks for your thoughts Jeff. The response to your suggestions are complex.
    The Golf Club land is totally owned by the golf club which has been there in excess of 100 years. The District Plan in particular, section 10 of the Airport and Golf Course Precinct, specifically states that the Golf Course is classified as a recreation area for the activity of golf. The process required to make a Plan change is extensive. If Ohakea is selected as an International Airport the location would be an ideal as a central hub for the regions of Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu and Wellington.
    Current rail services are in close proximity to that runway.

  4. First aircraft to operate from Lyall Bay flew in 1911 so aviation is hardly new either. Ohakea is too far for Wellingtonians and bear in mind that is where most of the passengers come from. Current rail cannot support the number of passengers as the number of trains will disrupt freight services. You could supply super fast trains and double track but this will also cost ….billions. It is still easier for the Club to move than an airport since the latter needs flat land unobstructed by hills whereas the golf club does not.
    GOB are part of the problem since one way to reduce airport parking requirements is to use a smaller number of larger aircraft taking more passengers reducing the need for more space rather than a larger number of small aircraft but that requires a longer runway and we know what GOB thinks about that. In the long run it will have to happen as the number of passengers increase. Alternatively you will hear more ATR’s and Airbus’s buzzing around 24/7.
    Do you not love the smell of JetA1 in the morning?

  5. Jeff
    You’ve failed to understand. The Golf Club does not to want move i’ts the airport that wants the land.
    Both parties agreed to the existing
    Boundaries after the 1991 Master Plan, the District Plan to which I have referred followed after an extensive public and community process. If the airport land grab eventuates then residents in Strathmore Park will be disturbed after having received consideration from the setting of the Air Noise Boundary which cannot be expanded. The Airports
    will have to accept that they must operate within their existing land boundary. By the way the original Rongotai Aerodrome was at 45 degrees to the existing runway long before Jet Aircraft were on the drawing board.

  6. Actually there were 3 short runways at Rongotai prior to the 1959 rebuild forming a triangle. Noise is less of a problem these days as jets in particular are quieter than they used to be although turbo props are still agravating. My mother lives above the airport and like many others who live close to an airport (or rail line) never notices. When I visit I do notice the noise although I never did before when I lived there.
    The airport could of course “move” but the cost will be in the $2 billion dollar plus region which is a little more expensive than what the golf club would face. As passenger numbers increase to 10 million plus over the next few years then the airport will have to expand. Hint :Berhampore is good for golf…..

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