Being caught short, or living cheek by jowl, isn't a problem at Herbertville's Camping Ground, district councillors were told last week.

There are 12 sites which do not comply with the three-metre boundary requirement which constitutes a fire risk, Bob Dunn, council's regulatory services manager, said in a report to councillors.

"Caravans are manufactured of highly flammable material and if they are too close together this constitutes a public health risk should fire break out," he said. "To mitigate this risk, the Herbertville camp ground scheme requires all sleeping quarters to have smoke detectors and there is a community fire truck [at the Herbertville Rural fire station] available near the premises for fire fighting purposes."

Mr Dunn said the lack of a second ablution block doesn't constitute a public health risk.


"During the busy period over the summer holidays, portable toilets are brought in. There may, however, be an extended waiting period for showers."

But, although the Tararua District Council has given camp owners exemptions to two provisions of the Camping Ground regulations, they insist the issues must be remedied within five years.

The exemptions apply to providing a second ablution block and the requirement to have a three metre boundary between temporary living spaces.

Blair King, council's chief executive, recommended councillors use discretion when the issue came up for discussion at last week's council meeting, but councillor Keith Fenemore was concerned approval could ultimately result in a comeback on council later.

However, Mr King said if council applied the exemption there would be no increase in liability.

"These are historical issues and could be dealt with in two ways, ask the camp ground owners to pull down and rebuild. But is this feasible? It would be difficult to justify," he said.

Vicki Pilbrow, the secretary of the Herbertville camp ground, said the shareholders, who own the facility, would suffer undue hardship if forced to provide secondary permanent ablutions for the two camp sites which are situated further than the stated 75 metres from the primary ablution block.

She said the management committee would be looking to alternative solutions within five years.

Deputy mayor Bill Keltie said it appeared the more people the owners could stack in, the better off they were.

But Mr King said the exemption did not give carte blanch to the owners to put in more units and applied only to historical non compliance.

"Over time the owners should be looking to remedy these issues," he said.

Councillor Chris Southgate asked if it was the intention of the camping ground owners to be compliant within five years or if councillors were just rubber stamping the exemption.

"Five years should be long enough for them to comply and cheek by jowl caravans shouldn't be too hard to sort out," he said.

Mr King recommended approval on this occasion, while making it clear to the owners that it was only for five years.