A Buddhist trust wants to build a Tibetan temple on a South Auckland rural lifestyle block - with 28 affordable homes for followers.
But objectors say the project will break planning rules and is inappropriate for the location.
A senior Auckland Council planner has also warned the council that allowing the Alfriston subdivision could start a run of religious groups trying to provide affordable housing for their members on cheaper urban-fringe land.
The Buddhist trust, which plans to move from a Manurewa suburban house, says the 5.83ha site in the countryside is ideal for a purpose-built temple based on a traditional design.
There was a strong wish by members to live in a community close to it, said Michael Barraclough, of the Zhyisil Chokyi Ghatsal Charitable Trust.
"It is part of our tradition that ordained monks and nuns stay in the temple and a lay community establishes close by.
"You have that spiritual community to support one another and also the temple."
Mr Barraclough said the centre would be developed in stages and used for retreats and events for up to 160 people.
A landscaping plan would create park-like grounds for meditation in a peaceful environment and they would be open to the public.
Other sites were looked at, but the Alfriston farm allowed for the 19.5m high temple to face east and its location and natural attributes were approved by the spiritual director in India for the Palpung Thubten Chokyi Ghatsal Buddhist Institute.
The centre would have its own fresh water and waste water treatment system.
"It's our principle that development must take into account environmental and sustainable principles."
The Alfriston Residents Group is objecting to the trust's application for resource consent, which will be heard by council commissioners next week.
John Willoughby, who has lived next to the proposed site for 30 years, said residents were not opposed on religious grounds.
"But 99 per cent of the application will not comply with planning rules."
Residents of lifestyle blocks and farms were shocked because they had not expected housing development to be imposed in the countryside so soon.
The Takanini Structure Plan, which was supposed to guide development, had pegged the site as providing for lifestyle blocks until 2020 when a future urban zone was to kick in and allow more intensive housing.
Resident Yolande Dickinson-Smith said the structure plan should not be discarded by the council.
"It was fought for by the residents against development such as this - a wholly non-complying activity on [the] size of the temple, type of activity, subdivision of unit title housing ..."
Three lifestyle properties near the site had recently sold for between $1.17 million and $1.65 million.
In a report on the resource consent application, senior council planner Bryce Powell said it should go ahead with conditions but without the subdivision.
The council could not ensure the affordable homes, with three to four bedrooms on unit titles, would stay occupied by temple members.
Without the temple link, granting consent for the subdivision might create a precedent that would erode public confidence that the district plan was being consistently applied.
A precedent could lead to other religions trying to provide affordable housing for members of their congregations on cheaper land on urban limits.