Wealthy Aucklanders will find it harder to helicopter from their mansions to the golf course and beachfront playgrounds under strict guidelines being drawn up by Auckland Council.
Plans by Briscoes boss Rod Duke to turn a Herne Bay boatshed into a helicopter landing pad and a helipad at Paritai Drive in Orakei have sparked fierce opposition by locals.
The council has granted consent for nearly two dozen private helicopter pads in the past six years, with 20 granted on Waiheke Island alone.
But growing public concern over the private use of helicopters in residential areas has prompted council planning chairman Chris Darby to query the rules in the Auckland Unitary Plan on the assumption they had been strengthened.
Much to his surprise Darby found a possible weakening of the rules with a lot of attention given to the helicopter landing pad part of an application and acoustics - but not enough to landings and take-offs.
He found in residential zones helicopter landings and take-offs are considered a "non-complying" activity which triggers a wide range of assessments, including privacy and recreational amenity.
In Herne Bay, Duke has infuriated locals with a James Bond-style helipad in an old boat shed on Sentinel Beach with a roof that folds back just as a chopper is about to land.
Herne Bay Residents Association co-chairman Don Mathieson has said people come from all over Auckland to swim at Sentinel Beach and will be affected by helicopters flying in and out, with the draught of their blades whipping up sand, towels and clothing.
Louise Wallace, who appeared in the television series The Real Housewives Of Auckland, has strongly opposed the plans for a helipad at 74 Paritai Drive, one of Auckland's most expensive streets.
"Do you want a helicopter falling out of the sky in a massive fireball on your house, kids and pets?" she said on social media.
"No! We do not. Get in a car and drive five minutes to the Mechanics Bay heliport for God's sake. C'mon. Let the CAA know this is not on."
A memo from council planning manager Phil Reid to the planning committee said much of the consent applications focused on the environmental effects of helipads - rather than the landing and take-off.
"The helicopter landing and take-off was always assessed for its noise impacts rather than whether the activity is provided for in the zone. Under the Auckland Unitary Plan, the activity status of helicopter landing and take-off is not apparent," Reid said.
Reid said there were enough provisions in the Unitary Plan to manage landings and take-offs in residential areas but acknowledged the need for greater clarity.
Darby said a practice note/interpretation guidance to consent planners was now being developed and will be in place "very quickly".
He believed the rules in the Unitary Plan require a plan change in future to "bolt down the specific provisions and take out the wriggle room".
Darby said he expected council planning staff to be fully aware of the new guidelines when considering any existing or new applications in residential zones and the general coastal marine zone as a non-complying activity.