Airport house miramar

A home is moved from Bridge St, Miramar, as the airport removes properties in its noise zone.

Houses in Bridge St are starting to disappear as Wellington Airport forges ahead with plans to remove 44 homes near its runway.

One house had already been removed from the area in Rongotai and another was ”jacked up” on trailers, ready to be taken away.

About nine houses along the street were now vacant and many more families were in the process of packing up.

”It’s sad that all our old neighbours have left,” said Bridge St resident Heather Courtney. “I lost a really good friend a couple of doors down.”

In May, Wellington Airport announced plans to either demolish or sound-proof about 700 houses around it to mitigate future airport noise.

The airport is allowed to emit up to 65 decibels, on average, over a 90-day period at its air noise boundary.

It currently emits an average of about 61dB, but an independent study identified 44 houses in Bridge St where noise could exceed 75dB on average.

The airport already owned half of those houses and gave its tenants six months to move out. It will extend an offer to purchase the remaining houses at fair valuation.

Mrs Courtney, who will have to sell her house to the airport, said it was sad watching her street slowly wither away.

”You wouldn’t get another street like this in Wellington because it’s so wide and we’re just so close to everything,” she said.

”That’s the problem we’re finding as we look for other places, we’re going to be so far away from our beach and our shops and our library and our pool.”

”It’ll be hard finding somewhere where we can settle for the next six years before we retire. It’s a little bit stressful but we have to accept it and move on.”

A 65dB sound is the level of normal conversation from a metre away. A rise of 10dB sounds twice as loud.

Heather Courtney

FORCED TO SELL: Bridge Street resident Heather Courtney.

AirportMap

The Wellington Airport noise zone.

Heather Courtney says her retirement plans were thrown into disarray by a letter in her mail box this week.

The Bridge St resident is one of 22 home owners on the edge of Wellington Airport’s runway who were told the airport would offer to buy their homes because it could not mitigate noise to an acceptable level.

Mrs Courtney and her husband Phil have lived in Bridge St since 1981 and have spent more than $50,000 renovating their house as a retirement nest egg. They planned to sell up in another seven years or so and retire to Nelson.

They were aware the airport would eventually table an offer to buy their house before 2030, as foreshadowed in its master plan. But the couple figured they had another 15 years or so up their sleeve.

And while that may still be the case, Mrs Courtney says the news this week that 22 houses around hers will begin disappearing as soon as next month, means she and handful of others will soon be living in a “wasteland”.

That would decrease the visual appeal and safety of the street – as well as the value of her house – making it difficult to stay long-term, she said.

“I’m like a lot of people around here. We all thought we had until 2030 before the houses started going. I was talking to my neighbour yesterday who said the same thing. He’s just put a new roof on his house.

“We probably still do, but the airport is making it very difficult to keep living here. We’ll have to find somewhere new to live and I don’t want another mortgage. I want to save for my retirement. I’m quite stressed out at the moment.”

The airport announced on Thursday that up to 700 homes surrounding it have been identified for treatment to mitigate airport noise to an acceptable level of 65 decibels.

The study also identified 44 properties on Bridge St where window seals, ventilation systems and noise insulation would not be effective. The airport owns half of those properties and has given its tenants six months to move out.

The rest will be approached by the airport with an offer to buy their house at fair value.

Chief operating officer John Howarth said he understood the stress residents were feeling, but said no-one would be forced out.

“Property owners on the eastern side of Bridge St have been included as part of the airport’s fair value purchase programme for at least a decade and do not need to move if they wish to stay.

“We understand this very difficult for all residents and will ensure that the areas where dwellings are removed are converted into nicely grassed areas.”

Related stories:

Airport to remove homes in noise zone

Family matters to tenants ousted from airport