Ian Webster says he was careful to ensure his new house in the heritage suburb of St Marys Bay would not be a concrete and glass bunker.

Responding to the criticism about the house at 38 Hackett St, Mr Webster said it was inspired by a 1945 Barcelona building and was sympathetic to other houses in the neighbourhood.

"We certainly don't think it detracts from the area any more than some of the bungalows around there that are in a sad state of disrepair," he said.

Hackett St resident John Field has called the house a "design monstrosity". Adrian Duff, who lives across the road, said the two large rectangles stuck out "like pimples on an otherwise lovely landscape".

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The house is one of four new houses in inner-city heritage suburbs highlighted in the Herald - all approved by council architect Garry Glasgow - which have provoked strong feelings on both sides of a heritage debate.

A new house at 74 Prospect Tce replaced a 1960s-1970s property.

Albert-Eden Local Board chairman Peter Haynes said the Prospect Tce house might be elegant but it was out of character with a row of villas.

Russell Ogilvy, who lives at 70b Prospect Tce, said the house would fit into a beach resort like Matarangi, "but Mt Eden?"

David Wood said it was "a well-designed, polite and civilised urban house and precisely the sort of design the city should be encouraging". One reader said the new designs were well within the guidelines for heritage suburbs, which sentimentalists found difficult to accept.

In the case of Prospect Tce, chief heritage adviser George Farrant reviewed Mr Glasgow's decision in 2010 and found it had a bulk and location affinity with old houses in the street.

Mr Farrant said it was important to understand that the Residential 1 zone criteria sought to conserve original character but did not seek new buildings that were clones of the originals.

But most people responding to the four houses, including a box-shaped modern house being built at 58 Hakanoa St in Grey Lynn, were aghast at Mr Glasgow's decisions and critical of council chief executive Doug McKay for refusing to answer questions and putting them through the Official Information Act, a procedure that can take months.

Papakura's Lena Smith said ratepayers would like to know what Mr McKay had to say.

St Marys Bay resident and law professor Peter Watts said the council was not getting it right with the approval of new houses in the Residential 1 zone.

"One gets the feeling that people like Mr Glasgow couldn't care a fig about the rules his employer has undertaken to enforce. He may even be hostile to the rules."

Grey Lynn lawyer Glenn Satherley said the decisions made a joke of "the co-called heritage protection of Residential 1".