A developer is calling for a taller height limit of three storeys to go with no controls on density in Auckland's suburbs.

Mark Todd of Ockham Residential said there should be one height limit of three storeys in the two residential zones where density controls are being relaxed.

The proposed Unitary Plan, the new planning rulebook for the Super City, has a three-storey height limit in the residential zone near town centres and two storeys in the suburban zone.

Auckland Council, developers and a community lobby group have begun mediation on the controversial issue of removing density controls, but sticking points remain around height, design and enforcement.

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Yesterday, Prime Minister John Key said he expected "nimbyism" to affect efforts to intensify Auckland's inner suburbs, but was optimistic it could go ahead.

"I think some areas will be more easy to intensify than others. There will be a degree of nimbyism in parts of Auckland which will stand pretty strongly against intensification but there are other parts where it's pretty openly welcomed," he said.

The new rules will lead to a shift away from traditional stand-alone houses to mixed developments of townhouses, apartments and studios without garages.

The council yesterday released images of the sort of developments envisaged for the mixed housing urban and mixed housing suburban zones in the Unitary Plan.

They show two-storey developments in Hobsonville and Takanini as suburban zone examples and three-storey urban zone examples at Ladies Mile in Ellerslie and the Promenade in Takapuna.

Mr Todd said the council's latest proposals still included a two-storey height limit of 8m in the suburban zone when it should be 10m, or three storeys. This was a natural height for residential builds, he said, as it allowed flexibility to build more units and protect green space.

The council has proposed other rule changes to residential zones. It has abandoned fence controls for all zones except historic character areas and done away with minimum floor-to-ceiling heights.

Artist impression of three-storey urban zone buildings at Ladies Mile in Ellerslie.
Artist impression of three-storey urban zone buildings at Ladies Mile in Ellerslie.

In the mixed housing urban zone, the council wants to increase the maximum building coverage from 40 per cent of a site to 50 per cent and decrease the minimum landscaping area from 40 per cent to 30 per cent.

An unresolved area is notification.

Richard Burton, of the Auckland 2040 community lobby group, said the council's position still had a strong bias toward non-notification of consents and not consulting affected neighbours. If that were reversed, he said, most developers would stick to the rules because it would be too difficult not to.

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, who's steering the council's Unitary Plan process, said the density issue wasn't easy but there was hope for good outcomes.

The decision to reverse density controls put in place following a public backlash in 2013 to the concept of no density has divided councillors.

Councillors voted 9-6 on June 11 to abandon density in the residential urban zone, and 8-7 to abandon density in the residential suburban zone on sites greater than 1,000sqm.

Councillor Cameron Brewer said it was "political suicide" to proceed with changes in the mixed housing suburban zone, covering 40 per cent of residential Auckland.