Family ordered to tear down seawall

BY MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 23/07/2009
NEAT AND TIDY: Mark Lawrence, with partner Tracy Oliver  and   son Jackson, says his rebuilt seawall  will stay.
MARTY SHARPE/The Dominion Post
NEAT AND TIDY: Mark Lawrence, with partner Tracy Oliver and son Jackson, says his rebuilt seawall will stay.

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A Hawke's Bay man who lives in an area prone to coastal erosion will disobey a council order to tear down a seawall, saying it is the only thing stopping his house from falling into the sea.

"There's no way it's going because if it goes it will be the end of our house. This is just ridiculous," Mark Lawrence said, a day after Hastings District Council gave him an abatement notice and told him to take his wall down.

When Mr Lawrence, partner Tracy Oliver and their four children moved into their house on the Haumoana seafront in December 2007 there was a collapsed seawall on the property.

For the past eight months, Mr Lawrence has rebuilt the wall, made of hundreds of concrete blocks, each more than one tonne in size. On Tuesday, the council told the family they had 30 days to tear it down.

Because the house is in a "coastal hazard zone", any protection work requires a resource consent. Mr Lawrence, believing he had been repairing an existing wall, had not applied for consent.

The stretch of coastline is prone to erosion in big seas and several houses nearby have been washed away.

He said since the wall was rebuilt, the family's property had not been affected by high seas, including a storm a month ago that washed out a road at a nearby motorcamp.

The wall would stay. "All I've done is rebuild a wall that was already there. Concrete blocks that were strewn across the beach with rusty metal are now neat and tidy in my wall.

"I can't for the life of me see why common sense can't prevail and they just leave us alone. I could understand if it was an imposing monstrosity, or if it was dangerous, but it isn't."

Council officers have told Mr Lawrence there was no way they could verify the wall's structural integrity. They were also concerned about its effect on properties to the south. Mr Lawrence said he would get an engineer's report and apply for a retrospective resource consent.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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