Key Points:

The technical side of transforming the Tank Farm from "industrial wasteland" to classy waterfront started yesterday with a challenge from Auckland Regional Holdings.

Don't deviate from the plan.

ARH, which is part of the Auckland Regional Council, owns 18.5ha of the land affected by proposals to redevelop 35ha of Wynyard Quarter. It includes creating a new park at Wynyard Pt and linking it all the way to Victoria Park via a 40m-wide promenade, as well as "Vulcan Lane" type retail lanes, office and accommodation space and a new $37 million Te Wero bridge linking the area with the city centre.

ARH was first to present it's evidence to a hearings commission which will sift through Auckland City Council notices of requirement needed to open up the waterfront.

Legal counsel Derek Nolan warned commissioners to expect an "avalanche" from ARHs 17 witnesses who are expected to take up the rest of the week.

After years of public consultation, studies and thousands of hours of expert work, no major changes to the plan as it stood was the outcome ARH wanted, Mr Nolan said.

"As a city, we have not realised the true potential of much of Auckland's city before. Too much of the built form of what is supposed to be a world-class city, has been described as in fact, just plain average.

The plan would deliver if the commissioners didn't fiddle too much with what was on the books.

"Or will you allow it to be whittled away, elements removed and turn it into just an average waterfront and an average part of Auckland."

He said a pre-hearing report which recommended reducing building maximum heights from 27m to 20m at the northern extension of Daldy St and from 25 to 18m at Jellicoe St was an example of "ad hoc" changes submitters wanted which rejected "thousands of hours" of detailed analyses.

"It is not only part of the Central Area, where higher density and height are entirely appropriate, but it is also large and has ample capacity.

"If you don't have intensification there, where do you have it?"

Meanwhile, Auckland City Council is acquiring additional open space for the park land and the Te Wero Link for approximately $64.5 million.

Giving evidence for the council, architect Gordon Moller, who has been working on planning for the last 10 years, said the Wynyard Quarter would be a place for all that connected people to the city and sea.

But existing industry's needs had been taken into account. Fishing company Sanford had asked for the promenade to be realigned where it went through Madden and Jellicoe Sts because of existing character uses and a heritage building.

It was a plan change which was justified, he said.

The hearing is expected to finish at the end of the month.