Plans for a West Auckland airfield have been met with concern from residents over the potential for an increase in planes and associated noise and impacts on property prices.
But the manager of West Auckland Airport in Parakai says its application for airport authority status is merely to give it clarity as an airport in the rurally-zoned area, not for expansion.
The airport - predominantly used for skydiving, flight training and private recreational flying - has made the application to the Ministry of Transport, which is seeking public feedback.
While airport authority status did not change the number or size of aircraft permitted to use the airport and surrounding airspace, the Ministry said it could support further development of the airport, which could have the effect of attracting more aircraft.
In a public notice, distributed to local residents, the Ministry said the airport had "plans to develop the airport, with the aim of attracting commercial passenger-carrying airlines".
"Part of this plan could include development of a new, longer runway.
"It views airport authority status as an important step for future growth, allowing it greater ability to attract new investment for planned developments."
Parakai resident Annika Doggett and her husband owned a house on Parkhurst Rd, across a field from the airport, where they had lived for three years.
"At the moment it is really just used for skydivers, and mostly on the weekend. They use small planes and are not an issue."
Doggett said while the information they had received was limited, they were concerned about the impacts larger and more frequent aircraft could have in the area.
"We would be very concerned about how it could affect property prices, increase noise and traffic.
"The road is already stuffed. We have loads of logging and chicken trucks coming down it. It can't handle any more traffic."
The airport has been privately owned by West Auckland Airport Company Ltd since 2005.
West Auckland Airport manager Simon Lockie said while in the long term there could be "aspirations" to develop the space, this application was merely for clarity around zoning.
"We are just looking to have some clarity that long term this land is going to be an airport.
"Those [commercial ideas] are just aspirations. Any such changes would need their own proposal and consultation, and they are not going to be riding on the back of this one.
"What we are doing now is purely for clarity of zoning."
The airport was classed as a consented airport in a rural zone, but Plan Change 20 to the Auckland Unitary Plan, designed to limit residential and industrial activities in rural areas, would mean any work they did on their property would need a resource consent - a lengthy and costly process.
"It would mean if we wanted to build another hangar we would need to get a consent,"
"It is quite different to if we wanted to extend the runway, in which case the RMA process would still apply."
They could already receive small commercial planes, but were limited by the size of the runway.
Lockie said any changes in the future would be done with proper community consultation.
"I have lived here for 15 years, I am part of the community. We want to continue being a positive influence in the community, this is about protecting our future here."
Rodney local board deputy chair Phelan Pirrie said it appeared the application was simply looking to designate the site as an airport.
"It is really quite a logical application. There are lots of similar airfields, including on Great Barrier Island. It is quite a leap to go from there to doing something like extending the runway, including a huge amount of time - decades - and money."
Pirrie said an increase in activity at the airport, be it as a training facility for pilots or for light commercial planes, could provide economic benefits for the area.
The Ministry of Transport was seeking views on the application through a public consultation process until May 31.
Following the public consultation period and the review of all submissions, the Ministry would make a recommendation to government.
A public meeting on the application was planned for May 23 at 7.30pm at the Helensville War Memorial Hall. Those attending needed to RSVP email@example.com by May 16.