After more than two years of trying Whanganui District Council is finally ready to adopt a Local Alcohol Policy, although some councillors have conceded it has been watered down.

The policy will introduce a one-way door restriction for all taverns, bars, pubs, and night-clubs one hour before closing.

It also caps the number of off-licenses to 14, with the document stating no new off-licenses will be considered appropriate if it would bring the total number of Whanganui's off-licenses to 14 or more.

However, the clause does not include off-license grocery stores or supermarkets, and will be reviewed annually by council.


At Tuesday's council meeting deputy mayor Jenny Duncan questioned the amount of time the LAP took.

"What an earth has taken so long? We've been at this for two years, and I know that we've had appeals but it's still taken a long time."

Legal counsel Rob Goldsbury said a lot of the process had been taken up by appeals to the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA), which involved two stages of appeal.

Councillor Jenny Duncan was frustrated at how long it took the LAP to get ready for adoption. Photo / File
Councillor Jenny Duncan was frustrated at how long it took the LAP to get ready for adoption. Photo / File

The legal process cost council $25,000.

Councillor Kate Joblin also shared frustration at how long the process has taken.

The policy requires on-license pubs, bars, hotels, or nightclubs to close by 2am, while restaurants are restricted between 8am and midnight.

Off-license bars, hotels, taverns and wineries can operate between 7am and 9.30pm, while club license hours are between 8am and midnight.

Supermarkets, grocery stores and bottle stores are limited to 7.30am and 10pm, which was extended an extra 30 minutes from 9.30pm following appeals from Foodstuff North Island and Liquorland.


Mayor Hamish McDouall was pleased to see the LAP ready to be brought into force, and said Hauraki District Council spent at least three years and close to $1 million on an LAP, while Christchurch City Council abandoned its attempt to introduce an LAP after appeals became too cumbersome.

"For $25,000 of legal fees we've got this across the line, we should be pretty proud of ourselves," he said.

"The lag has meant some decisions have been made, no one can help but notice the liquor store at the end of Victoria Ave and that's a shame. We didn't have an LAP at that point and we were not allowed to consider the draft LAP.

"This is a good thing for Whanganui, we've got restrictions and we should celebrate it."

Joblin said the community should also be celebrated for the amount of public input received.

Councillor Josh Chandulal–Mackay said the policy wasn't as strong as he would've liked but said it would still reduce the potential for alcohol related harm in the community.

Councillors voted unanimously for the LAP to come into effect on September 2, giving council officers time to create the public notification document.

Clauses on the policy's one-way door restriction and licensed hours limits will be brought into effect on December 2, which is a three month legal requirement following the publication of the LAP.

The policy also restricts any new off-license premises from operating within 100 metres of sensitive sites, such as early childhood centres, schools, places of worship, marae, playgrounds and alcohol treatment centres.

The policy had been adopted by ARLA prior to Tuesday's meeting.