Opponents of high-rise buildings in Milford say areas closer to the Northern Motorway and the busway have the capacity to soak up some of the commercial and residential growth which threatens to change their suburb's character.
Milford Village Forum leader Peter Carter said a concept of spreading growth to a second centre around Smales Farm had come from the community by way of a survey and public debate.
These showed passion for preserving the old suburb's character and heritage as well as improving civic facilities.
The community felt it must give a clear vision of what it wanted for the future rather than leave it to Auckland Council.
Last month, a meeting of 500 people heard the council's Unitary Plan authors propose elevating the town centre to a large one, with building heights of up to eight storeys.
Milford Residents Association co-leader Deborah Dunsford said there was an overwhelming objection to excessive height and bulk in the Milford Centre.
For the mall centre, the association suggested up to six storeys, with the rest of the mall and commercial centre being up to four storeys, with the top storey set back to allow sunlight on to Kitchener Rd.
Building heights should be lowered to three storeys in the surrounding apartment zone, two storeys in the mixed housing zone and a single housing zone buffer area near Milford Beach and Lake Pupuke.
Dr Dunsford said the community's vision reflected a "flaxroots middle ground" which accepted more intensive housing and reasonable growth.
The consensus was that a quality environment could be achieved by making Smales Farm the commercial hub and Milford the coastal shopping destination.
Smales Farm's advantages included being near to the Northcote motorway interchange, a central bus station, hospital, six schools and three supermarkets.
It had properties suitable for mid-rise redevelopment.
Taharoto Rd and other areas between Lake Pupuke and the motorway were also ripe for redevelopment.
• Four-storey commercial centre, with two storeys extra in the mall centre.
• Three-storey apartment zone.
• Two-storey mixed housing zone.
• Two centres: Milford as seaside shopping destination; Smales Farm as commercial hub and mid-rise housing.