Family given deadline to improve or remove wall

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 23/04/2013
Sea wall, Haumoana
Hastings District Council

FINAL NOTICE: Mark Lawrence has been told to fix or remove the wall protecting two properties in Clifton Rd, Haumoana, Hawke's Bay, from erosion by next March.

Sea wall, Haumoana
MARTY SHARPE/Fairfax NZ
SEA THREAT: Mark Lawrence, his partner Tracy Oliver, and their son Jackson, beside the seawall Mr Lawrence built at Haumoana.

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A wall stopping a family's home from washing into the sea must come down by March 31 next year after a bid to keep it was lost.

The long-running battle by Mark Lawrence, his partner Tracy Oliver and their four children to keep the seawall that protects their house at Haumoana, Hawke's Bay, has ended in defeat.

Mr Lawrence was issued an abatement notice in July 2009 requiring him to stop building a large concrete block seawall protecting the family's and a neighbour's houses.

Mr Lawrence did not have a building consent from Hastings District Council to build the 40-metre-long, 3m-high wall, which was nearly completed.

He and Ms Oliver were convicted of breaching the Building Act and fined $3000.

The couple applied for a certificate of acceptance for the wall, which could have allowed it to remain.

The council refused, stating the wall was not structurally safe.

The Department of Building and Housing upheld the council's decision, and late last year the council sent the couple a notice to fix.

The notice gives the family until March 31 next year to apply for a building consent and bring the wall up to building code standard, or to remove the wall and dispose of all material in an approved landfill.

If they do not they will be liable for a fine of up to $200,000 and a further $20,000 for every day they fail to comply.

Mr Lawrence has always said he believed he was just maintaining an existing wall on the site that had collapsed.

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

In late 2011 the couple bought the neighbouring house that is also protected by the wall. They now live there and rent out their former home as a holiday bach.

Mr Lawrence said there was no question the wall would fail to comply within the required period.

'We can't afford to fix it and we can't afford to remove it so I've got no idea what's going to happen come March," he said.

"Anything an engineer designs to meet what the council wants will be ridiculously expensive.

"And anyway, what we've built has been working for how many years now? The whole thing is just crazy, it really is."

The council was unavailable to comment.

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