The Hawke's Bay resident who built an illegal seawall to fight the coastal elements has won another battle - his eight-year campaign to keep the structure standing.

Mark Lawrence built the 40m-long seawall protecting two Haumoana beachfront properties in late 2008.

However since then he has battled with the Hastings District Council to remove the wall - made of large concrete blocks - with the council saying the structure was built without consent and did not comply with the building act.

As it had been built from an earlier wall which had crumbled, he has maintained that he believed it was an existing wall. At the time, Mr Lawrence said he thought that if the wall had not been repaired quickly, the next high sea would have destroyed his home.


However the council did not feel the same - in 2009 they gave him 30 days to get rid of the wall, and in 2010 took Mr Lawrence and his partner to court, where was fined $3000 for breaching the building act.

Now, nine years after the wall went up, the council has backed down.

After 2010's court action Mr Lawrence had applied for a retrospective building consent, which was declined as the wall did not comply with the building code, council Group Manager Planning and Regulatory Services John O'Shaughnessy said.

He was given a deadline, or "notice to fix" the wall which was extended from 2014 to May of this year.

This had now been allowed to lapse, and Mr O'Shaughnessy said the council had decided not to pursue the matter at this stage.

"In coming to that decision Council has considered a number of issues, including the directions of Crown Law which include that Council must consider whether there is public good in pursuing prosecution and whether the matter can be resolved with or without prosecution," he said.

"Council believes that because the wall does not pose any threat to the public, and that forcing it to be removed would put the property behind the wall at serious risk of erosion (including the potential that the house would be inundated), that there is no public interest in pursuing the matter."

He said the primary aim of the Building Act was to protect people from injury, and in this case the council did not believe there was any risk to people.

Yesterday Mr Lawrence said he thought council's decision to let the wall stay was "a bit bizarre" as it came "seven or eight years later, they could have made this decision hot on the heels of court".

When asked, he said he was not happy with the outcome.

"There's nothing happy about all of this."

Mr Lawrence had been supported by residents group Walking On Water - which was founded in 2009 by current Hastings District Councillor Ann Redstone.

Yesterday the former chair said she was very pleased the council had decided to allow the deadline to lapse, "as the Lawrence family have suffered a great deal of stress over the past few years since they rebuilt the wall, which had fallen over.

"It's great to hear that council staff think that the wall is unlikely to pose a threat to the public and I agree that taking it out is more likely to cause problems for the home behind the wall and possibly those to either side as well," she said.

WOW spokesman Keith Newman said this was good news for Mark, and his partner Tracey, although it was "long overdue".

"They have been very patient and ultimately penalised for trying to do the right thing by cleaning up the broken and fallen blocks on the beach shortly after purchasing the property and then acting to restore the damaged wall around their property.

Although the group was grateful the council had allowed the wall to stay, they hoped this also "signals a new era of proactive efforts to work co-operatively with the community in dealing with other pressing issues".

Although the wall has been allowed to stay, Mr O'Shaughnessy said the council would continue to inspect it to ensure it did not pose any threat to public safety, and "take action as necessary, should the safety status of the wall change".

Mr Lawrence's Haumoana neighbours - who the wall also protects - said they did not want to comment.