Herne Bay residents say Auckland Council should have given them the chance to object to helicopter landing rights at the Sentinel Beach property of businessman Rod Duke and wife Patricia.

But the council says it did not notify the application because two neighbours had given their consent.

Dirk Hudig and Don Mathieson, co-chairs of the Herne Bay Residents Association, said the landing rights application on the beach house at the Sarsfield St property and on the public beach should have been notified - partly because that beach house is on public land.

"Because Auckland Council planners chose to make the original resource consent non-notified, residents, beach users and Auckland families who enjoy the beach could not have a say and their views could not be taken into account," Hudig and Mathieson said.


"Sentinel Beach is one of the favourite beaches in the central Auckland area. The users of the beach should have had an opportunity to be heard.

"It is also one of the few recreational areas in the inner city Herne Bay/Ponsonby area – an area that through intensification has few reserves relative to newer suburbs and relies on the Waitemata Harbour beaches and 'blue' recreational space to offset this shortfall," they said.

Mark White, council central resource consents manager, said the application went through non-notified due to consent from two neighbouring properties.

"Rod and Patricia Duke applied for consent for a helipad on their boatshed at their property at 75 Sarsfield St. The application sought consent for six flights - six arrivals and six departures - per week.

"However, the applicants' noise expert provided an assessment of noise effects which was based on a maximum of three flights per week - three arrivals and three departures- with a maximum of one arrival and departure on any one day.

"The council based its assessment on the information provided by the applicants' noise expert and recommended that the application be processed on a limited notified basis, to 73 and 79 Sarsfield St.

"We received written approvals from 73 and 79 Sarsfield St. As a result of the written approvals being received, the application was not notified. The council granted consent for a total of three flights - three approaches and three departures - a week, as per the applicants' noise expert's assessment.

Property records show 73 Sarsfield St is owned by fellow Richlister Peter Francis.

The existing boatshed at Sentinel Beach. Photo/Brett Phibbs
The existing boatshed at Sentinel Beach. Photo/Brett Phibbs

"A greater number of flights per week would have required an amended noise assessment and may have required the application to be notified, on either a limited or full notification basis," White said in a statement to the Herald.

"The Resource Management Act states the council - and the Environment Court on appeal - must not grant a resource consent if the application should have been notified and it was not. This is not a new provision.

"The Dukes have appealed the council's decision to grant consent for three flights per week to the Environment Court.

"The court has issued a decision enabling the Dukes to commence their current consent (such as construction of the helipad), but does not enable the Dukes to have helicopter flights whilst the appeal is before the Environment Court. The council is due to report to the court on progress today," White said.

Rod Duke, the businessman with the Herne Bay property.
Rod Duke, the businessman with the Herne Bay property.

Private planning consultant Paul Arnesen of Planning Focus represented the Dukes, telling the council the application for a replacement boatshed and a new helicopter landing pad should be processed "without notice".

The adverse effects on the environment would be no more than minor, Arnesen said. No people were considered by be adversely affected and there were no special circumstances to warrant notification, he said. People in the area should have no problems with the helicopters or the existing boatshed being rebuilt, Arnesen said.

"The redevelopment of the boatshed will have no impact on the public open space qualities of the foreshore because the footprint of the structure is not altered. The occasional landing of helicopters on the structure will not compromise the amenity of the locality for users of Sentinel Beach, recognising that the area is a very urban coastal environment," Arnesen's report said.

But Hudig and Mathieson took the opposite view.

"The association is extremely disappointed that due to non-notification of the original application it has been left with few options to address this matter," they said. Helicopters elsewhere in the area already caused issues.

"Anecdotal evidence suggests beach users have lost clothing and towels into the sea from the air disturbances caused by helicopter landings/take-offs," Hudig and Mathieson said.

They hope the council is able to restrict Duke's helicopter movements.

Duke said on Monday he wanted chopper landing rights so he could get to golf faster.

"From time to time, I have got a golf membership up the coast. I don't want to have to drive to Onehunga," he said yesterday referring to getting to a hire helicopter at Advanced Flight.

Duke's national retail empire encompasses Briscoes Homeware, Living & Giving and Rebel Sport and he appeared on this year's NBR Rich List with an estimated $750m fortune.

The Dukes' resource consent application described a sophisticated solution to his golf transport issue, creating a sliding section in the new boatshed to house a helicopter landing pad - the roof would open to let choppers land.

The bay has three boatsheds but the Dukes' new one would be able to move when choppers were about to land.

Duke said this week he had lodged an Environment Court appeal against the council's restrictions.