A block of art deco-style flats in central Auckland have kept heritage protection in a new planning rulebook for the city.

Councillors today rejected a recommendation from an independent hearings panel to delete the flats at 44 Symonds St from the heritage schedule in the Unitary Plan.

Officers advised that heritage experts agreed that the flats have outstanding national value and warranted remaining in the plan as a Category A place.

The slightly curved, art deco-style block at No 44 was built in 1948 from reinforced concrete.

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The 45 apartments were built for low-income single people and couples without children.

In 2013, Housing New Zealand said the flats had leaks and moved all 34 tenants while repairs and refurbishment were carried out.

Councillors did support another recommendation from the panel to delete policies which seek to protect and manage unscheduled significant historic heritage.

Council heritage manager Noel Reardon said the statement was meaningless.

He said the number of scheduled heritage places had been significantly increased in the plan, special character areas had been retained - although some had been deleted and new areas like Balmoral and Karangahape Rd added.

Councillors have begun day four of making final decisions on the Unitary Plan, which will shape the future of the city for decades to come.