Two months out from the planned opening of a major new shooting range in Makarau, owner Raymond O’Brien has run into problems with neighbours and Auckland Council consents.
Mr O’Brien owns 111-hectares on Tuhirangi Road, off State Highway 16, and is developing a 37-hectare portion into what he hopes will become New Zealand’s largest shooting club.
He was given the go-ahead for the development last August after receiving a Certificate of Compliance (CoC) from Council.
However, Northern manager for resource consents Ian Dobson says the Auckland Shooting Club’s website indicates that the general scale of the activity will be larger than what is permitted under the CoC.
Mr Dobson says he can’t confirm which parts of the plan will require resource consent until an application is lodged.
The CoC will also be challenged in the High Court by the Vipassana Meditation Centre, which says gunshots will be intrusive and alarming for its students.
The centre is located on Burnside Road, off Tuhirangi Road, and was established in 1987. Vipassana learned of the plans for the shooting range when a neighbour notified it after seeing the proposal on Facebook.
The legal case was filed on December 23 with a High Court date still to be confirmed.
Mr O’Brien says that the CoC will only allow a small part of the final design to be developed for the July 1 opening. He hopes to secure resource consent in the near future so the whole project can be completed. He says he is confident about a positive outcome from the court hearing.
“There are no allegations that we have breached any rules,” he says. “The case is only challenging the process that Council followed in granting us the certificate.”
Under Council rules, the noise level from the range is limited to no louder than 55 decibels at the nearest property.
Mr O’Brien says a digital model using data from two other shooting ranges shows that at the nearest property the level will be 38 decibels.
“This is probably an over-estimation because the new range will be more noise absorbent than those used in the model.”
Lesley Rowntree, who lives next to the club, is not convinced. She believes the noise will be above the 55 decibel limit at her property. She is also concerned about the operating hours of 6am to 6pm, seven days a week, and Tuhirangi Road’s ability to cope with the potential increase in traffic.
“I’m not against guns or shooting, but this is set to be a massive development open 365 days a year,” she says. “The road is already dusty in summer and slippery in winter, and for any project of this size to take place the road would need to be sealed.”
When fully completed, the range will be one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere costing between $5 and $6 million, and capable of hosting international events.
The 37-hectare site is eight times larger than any other gun club in the country.
Construction is still in its early stages and just a small part of the final design will be operational at the official opening in July.
The balance of the land will be kept as a working cattle property with the potential for expansion of the range in the future.
“Truthfully, we haven’t thought too much about what we would construct on the larger section, but for now it will provide a nice gap between the range and neighbouring properties,” Mr O’Brien says.
The Auckland Shooting Club will be given exclusive use of the new facility. The club currently has more than 500 members.