In May of 2012 residents of Eastern Suburbs warned that airport plans were likely to create a “wasteland” and looking at the evidence, this seems to have come to pass. The airport in its insatiable drive to collect more land (undoubtedly to build more carparks) has destroyed a once thriving community street in Rongotai.
In a PR hyper-spin, that only the WIAL could have created, it released a brochure titled “We are making changes to further protect our community against noise.” For residents of Bridge Street that protection of the community included buying their properties and removing them, which conveniently falls into the longer term airport plan which sees the company spreading itself deeper into Rongotai, Miramar, and Strathmore, which have seen a school to be closed and an increasing ghetto of empty houses with streets used as overflow parking from the airport parking and rental operations based there or nearby.
Whether you agree with the expansion of the airport or not, one thing should be clear, the airport is not a good neighbour. It has, in my opinion, shown time and again its contempt for the local community and refusal to listen. It’s latest PR spin is that it will increase the drop off time from five minutes to ten minutes and no wonder, the new road design is looking like a total disaster in the making. Let’s not forget that they are effectively shutting off the through road that they had agreed to keep under an old gentleman’s agreement with the Council. Much public protest on that one, but when one of your Councilors is sitting on the WIAL board and being paid tens of thousands of dollars a year, the chances of any leverage is zero.
So here is to Bridge Street, and here is a reminded that as we start down the consent process for a bigger airfield the airport has not been a good neighbour, will continue to behave the same way, and while the Council is conflicted over the company not a lot will change. You can expect to see this site mirrored on the other side of Bridge Street over time and on the eastern boundary as well, where houses are already standing empty.