Birkenhead residents will press their views this week on one of the most bitter planning rows in North Shore City history - a council bid to crib part of a landmark Highbury reserve so it can build a new library and civic centre.

It is such a hot issue that the council is leaving it wholly to independent planning commissioners instead of including elected councillors to consider public submissions and decide whether the reserve zoning should be changed.

The 58 residents who are opposed include former One News presenter Judy Bailey, while Dame Thea Muldoon, the wife of former Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon, is among three times that number who advocate that the library and community facilities should use the Nell Fisher Reserve.

The row started last year when the council demolished community buildings on the site before seeking resource consent to build a $6.5 million replacement complex.

In June independent planning commissioners rejected the resource consent bid saying the complex was inappropriate for the Highbury site's split recreation and business zoning and would encroach on space for passive recreation.

Now the council is trying to overcome that setback by applying a special purpose 9 community uses zone to that part of the land suitable for building.

Opponent Peter White said the more people who saw the now-grassed site with its harbour views the more support grew for it to be a park.

But Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board chairman Peter Burn said the public was unhappy about the frustrating delays to a project which should have been open by now.

He was confident of support for the zone change which would allow the council to immediately seek a resource consent so building could start.

A council planning staff report says that having a triangular reserve on the street frontage would allow the building yet serve as a break in the Highbury shops.