Swimming at Whanganui port is not permitted but people do it anyway according to people at a planning meeting on Tuesday.

Urban design consultant Henry Crothers said he has worked on a number of waterfront developments where designated swimming areas had been incorporated.

"It's important to make it appeal to the demographic who will use it and make it challenging enough for them," he said.

Mr Crothers' LandLAB company have designed a number of waterfront developments around the Auckland port.

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He said it is important to make use of what is already there and to have something for everyone who wants to be there.

Castlecliff resident Des Warahi said he spent a lot of his childhood swimming and playing in the water around the port.

"My 21-year-old daughter has never had that experience and that's a shame.

"I hope my new grandson will be able to enjoy what I knew as a child."

One man suggested that an area of sediment build-up at the front of the port could be extended with dredged material to form an enclosed swimming area.

Another suggestion was that people should just go and swim at the nearby beach.