A large slice of prime beachfront real estate is shaping up as the next battleground for those opposed to multilevel housing.
Four properties in a row on one of Auckland's most sought-after streets are for sale - and a proposed land change from residential to mixed use could make the St Heliers sites a money-spinner for developers.
The houses, with a combined land area of 2274sq m, are being sold by tender. The area has been earmarked for 12.5m four-storey buildings under the draft unitary plan.
The proposed change to "local centre" use meant retail, offices, restaurants, apartments, businesses and even small supermarkets were possible.
Sally Hughes, from the preservation group Save Our St Heliers, said the homes would inevitably make way for multilevels.
Hughes said the group - part of the Auckland-wide Character Coalition - didn't oppose progress but wanted well-designed buildings in keeping with the "seaside village" of St Heliers. "We don't want big, bare concrete structures that are almost brutal in their design. There needs to be thought and consideration for the character of the area."
Hughes also called for legal protection for more buildings in the area as only the 1920 brick library was a protected building.
Real estate agent Paul Barnao, of Barfoot and Thompson, said most interest in the properties had come from private buyers.
One of the houses, a character bungalow, had been removed before the properties went on the market. The properties, 100m from St Heliers Village, are owned by the Fillmore family.
Welcome mat out for development's first tenants
A community divided by the demolition of historic buildings for a multi-level development has, nonetheless, given new tenants a warm reception.
Two businesses have moved into the three-level building in St Heliers and say they have been welcomed to the area.
Developer Mike Markham caused a public uproar in 2010 when he demolished three Spanish mission-style homes in Turua St for a glass and concrete mixed-use development. Melissa Markley from Bloom Hearing knew nothing of the controversy before her business moved into Turua St, but said:
"Everyone has been really lovely and we even had someone bring in a lovely gift box with a pot plant." New Triathlete's Corner owner Jason Benniman said they had a lot of well-wishers and people were warming to the building. "There are always going to be differing views."