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North Harbour Stadium future-proofed over noise complaints
February 07, 2007
By Wayne Thompson

Future apartment dwellers near North Harbour Stadium will not have the right to oppose or restrict its concerts.

Losing that right is part of a "future proofing" deal struck by the stadium trust board and the developers who plan to build huge apartment complexes at Albany on the bare paddocks around the stadium.

In order to get resource consent, a covenant against complaints about noise must be registered on every title to the apartments, which will have to be built to a set acoustic standard including special glazing and sound-proof materials.

"We don't want to be in the situation we have seen elsewhere in the Auckland region where there have been restrictions that would hurt our customers and revenue," said stadium chief executive Brendan O'Connor.

"We are trying to keep it a multi-purpose stadium with sport and a diverse range of events - we've just had the Roger Waters concert, and the Crusty Demons motorbike show is coming up.

"When the stadium was built 10 years ago it was farmland round here and since then there has been a lot of development."

Mr O'Connor said the stadium's 24ha was about to have apartment blocks as neighbours as a result of zone changes.

North Shore City Council permitted up to 16 concerts a year and noise levels of 85 decibels up to 11 pm on weekends and 80 decibels on weekdays.

Eden Park is not permitted to have concerts and resource consent conditions for the proposed rebuilt stadium require a stringent 55 decibels up to 10.30 pm.

Western Springs and Westpac Stadium in Wellington have limits of 60 decibels or more.

"We are protecting our business and the developers will put measures in place to protect their residents," said Mr O'Connor.

"There is nothing to stop any resident complaining about noise if we don't keep within lawful operating levels."

The council said it received 17 complaints about noise from the Roger Waters' Dark Side of the Moon concert, mostly from residents in a primarily industrial area.

Mr O'Connor said the stadium had acoustic engineers monitoring the concert and the noise was well within limits, though the music was loud. Until that day, the stadium had had only one noise complaint in 10 years.

The stadium trust board insisted on protection against noise restrictions in negotiations with the council and Albany developers who wanted to change some business land zoning to allow residential buildings.

Stadium trust board lawyer Richard Brabant said the stadium was now "future-proofed" and was unique, at least in Auckland, in terms of facilities and continued to be the best option as the venue for the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

The agreement was negotiated with landowners Cornerstone Group and developers including Symphony Group and is to be written into the District Plan.

This means every residential unit will have its living and bedroom areas built to an agreed acoustic standard so the noise level inside should not exceed 50 decibels, based on an 85 decibel limit noise contour around the stadium.

The District Plan will say that every residential development in the Business 11 zone needs a consent with a no-complaints covenant on the title.

"It says you are coming to live here in the environment next to a major stadium and you agree you will not complain about any stadium activities carried out in accordance with its lawful rights. The stadium can have night lights on as often as necessary and it can hold concerts," said Mr Brabant.

The Environment Court has yet to endorse the District Plan change but already the first major residential complex for Albany is set to go ahead.

The Platypus Group plans to launch this month sales of 146 apartments in the first stage of a 585-unit development called The Foundry on Don McKinnon Drive.

Platypus director Chris Minty said the agreement should not affect buyers as long as the stadium operated to the rules.

The apartments were "a couple of hundred metres" from the stadium, he said, and it was only a few times a year that noise levels reached concert standard.

He was unable to say how much more expensive apartments would be if special sound-proofing materials had to be used.

Albany City Holdings has agreed to protect the stadium against noise complaints and is developing 794 apartments in Don McKinnon Drive.