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Aerodrome masterplan: Landowners share fear of flying blind

Beca representatives present three proposals for the Hood Aerodrome masterplan at a meeting on Monday. PHOTO/TOM TAYLOR

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More questions were raised than answered at a community workshop about the future of Hood Aerodrome held at Masterton War Memorial Stadium on Monday night.

Three concepts were presented to an audience of about 80. Each of the concepts would require changes to Manaia Rd, which ran roughly perpendicular to the existing runway.

Concepts 1 and 2 would divert Manaia Rd around the proposed runway extension. Concept 3 would require the diversion of Manaia Rd through residential areas to Andrew St in Kuripuni, or the closure of Manaia Rd.

All the proposals involved a lengthening and widening of the existing runway to allow for expanded services. Representatives from independent design and engineering consultancy Beca, who presented the options, recommended a runway length of 1280m.

“None of these options work without changing the road,” Beca landscape architect Craig Pocock said.

Manaia Rd residents present at the workshop said they were given three working days’ notice before the proposals went before the public meeting.

“All of these plans are getting moved on to our front lawn, basically,” one resident said.

The workshop came nearly 10 months after Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced a $10 million funding package for the airport. Masterton District Council would supplement the central government funding with an additional $7 million.

MDC project manager Martyn Round said he had talked about plans to extend the runway with all affected landowners last week.

Council spokesman Steve Rendle confirmed on Tuesday landowners had been told of the potential for land acquisition last week.

Another attendee asked what would happen to the $17 million total funding for the project if nothing ended up going ahead.

Round said some of the money had already been committed to hangar developments in the next five years.

Concept 2 would also require operational changes to air show Wings Over Wairarapa to free up land for development south of the airfield.

Wings Over Wairarapa general manager Jenny Gasson said she had held several conversations with Beca about the proposed changes.

“It would be pretty accurate to say that we’re not there yet. It certainly presents a lot of challenges for us.”

However, Gasson said Wings was not saying no to any of the proposals and would work with whatever was decided.

Masterton district councillor Bex Johnson said the purpose of Monday’s meeting was to gather the community’s ideas to help develop a master plan for Hood Aerodrome.

“Hood is a key asset to the council and our community, and work is required to bring it up to standard,” Johnson said. “We also want to make sure we are ready for any future opportunities.”

The plan would look at least 20 years into the future and shape how any aerodrome development would unfold.

“We don’t want to do something now that prevents or precludes us doing something in the future,” Johnson said.

  • Further information on the Hood Aerodrome Project can be found on the MDC website or at its Queen St office. MDC welcomed feedback on the proposals within the next three weeks.

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