Auckland Mayor Len Brown's commitment to heritage has been slated on the day he launched the Auckland Plan, which aims to breathe life into a shared vision for the city.

Hours after Mr Brown told a who's who of Auckland that heritage was at the forefront of the plan, the Save Our St Heliers group was giving councillors a community perspective.

Spokeswoman Sally Hughes said there had been some token measures since Mr Brown became Mayor, but essentially nothing had changed.

The message to heritage groups was that nothing would change until a new unitary plan was in place, she told the planning and urban heritage forum.

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Ms Hughes said that by the time the plan was implemented in five years, the main street of St Heliers village would be replaced with modern buildings like those going up in Turua St.

Save Our St Heliers member Alex Dempsey said Auckland should adopt the approach of Brisbane, where proposed demolition of any pre-1946 building in early suburbs had to be publicly notified to gain consent, and replacements had to meet a design-character code.

"The onus is squarely on the argument for retention to prove a case rather than the reverse," she said.

Mr Brown said the current heritage criteria probably required greater clarity, but he appeared to be siding with senior officers who are resisting a proposal by the council's heritage advisory panel for immediate action.

HERITAGE IN AUSTRALIA

Brisbane heritage controls:

* All demolitions must be publicly notified.
* New buildings in old suburbs must meet design code.
* Rules apply to pre-1946 homes, shops and commercial buildings.
* Communities draw up plans for older suburbs.