Auckland Council wrongly listed for protection 150 pre-1940s houses, drawing criticism from the Environment Court.
A group, including the New Zealand Heavy Haulage Association whose members move old houses, has been battling against the incorrect protection classifications of dozens of houses since 2007.
In a written Environment Court judgment released this week, Judge Jeff Smith - with two environment commissioners - described the matter over banning demolition of the houses as a "sorry history" and said it had taken seven years to process appeals brought against the council over a group of multimillion-dollar properties.
These places are in Remuera, Mission Bay, Parnell, Glendowie, Herne Bay, Epsom, Greenlane, Mt Albert and Otahuhu.
Judge Smith said the court was disturbed to hear how the council was wrongly applying rules over demolition.
The council had not only wrongly enforced rules but it had also wrongly classified properties.
That meant it favoured its position over that of the property owners, which had resulted in a significant cost to landowners. In some cases, the council advocated protection on sites without any houses or where a house did not meet pre-1940s requirements, the court ruled.
Russell Bartlett, representing two landowners with Remuera properties, told the court the council was still refusing to process applications for demolition without a resource consent application - a situation the court decided was wrong.