Proper planning consents means Whanganui's riverside boardwalk will not need to have a safety barrier added to it.

The debate over whether or not such boardwalks need a barrier has been highlighted in the Northland seaside settlement of Mangonui.

The saga began in 2003, when the Far North District Council applied to the Northland Regional Council for a reclamation consent to build the boardwalk, with a safety rail. Some years before a hotel patron had fallen into the water and died, and the coroner recommended that a railing be erected.

The boardwalk was built in 2007, without a railing, although a temporary fence was erected in 2009 at the regional council's instruction (the Building Act also requires a safety railing where the drop is more than one metre).


Now the Far North council says it's a not a matter of when a barrier will be in place but what it will look like.

But similar moves are not planned for the timber walkway next to the Whanganui River on Taupo Quay.

Greg Hoobin, Whanganui District Council building control team leader, told the Chronicle that in 2007 the council issued a code compliance certificate for the boardwalk. This did not require barriers, based on the limits of application of the building code.

"The application of the building code can, at times, be a subjective matter based on consenting practices of the day," Mr Hoobin said.

He said the boardwalk was constructed to the approved plans and was subsequently issued a compliance certificate.

"The difference between the Whanganui River boardwalk and the Mangonui project is that both the resource consent and building consent for the Mangonui project had stipulated a barrier which had not been constructed," he said.