The first test for the Auckland Plan's push for high-density living has started, and 3800 submissions are offering views on how the North Shore suburb of Milford should grow.
Milford is one of only four town centres marked in the Auckland Plan as "most market attractive" for intensification because of its existing amenities and bus service.
Yesterday, a developer began putting a case for changing the district plan provisions to enable high-rise apartments at the Milford Shopping Centre.
Planner Peter Reaburn, for Milford Centre Ltd, told a council hearings panel that many Milford resident were "happy with the area the way it is and do not want significant change".
But, he said, the "village character" would change, because it was marked on statutory planning documents for a high-density centre.
The Auckland Plan's directions meant the character of 200ha around the Milford shops would change over the next 30 years from its low-density residential nature.
Three- to four-storey homes would be built to give a further 3500 units sought by planning documents in the town centre.
Current zoning in the area did not allow for a doubling of dwelling densities.
Mr Reaburn said the developer's proposed plan change would allow intensive residential development within the 2.9ha shopping centre site through a substantial increase in possible building heights.
Residential development would occur at specific points in an "overlay" area above the business 2 zone of the shops.
He disagreed with Auckland Council planning officials about the need for changing the sizes of the building envelopes, saying it would drastically change the amount and cost of development.
Height reductions for two of the tallest buildings were proposed by council landscape architect Leo Jew. This would mean the loss of 48 units which could come out of the plan change.
Mr Jew told the panel that he was concerned that design controls did not go far enough to balance the dominance and shadow of buildings.
He wanted the proposed 63m and 59m buildings reduced to 40m maximum height.
Mr Reaburn said the developer followed new design standards in proposing minimum sizes of 40sq m for studio or one-bedroom units, 55sq m for two-bedroom units and 70sq m for units with three or more bedrooms.
* 250 apartments on 2.9ha shopping centre site.
* 9 buildings proposed - from 21m (4 storey) to 63m high (16-17 storey).
* Issues include: Height, form and quality of buildings; effects on the amenity; traffic and parking.