The Auckland Council has filed its changes to ease controls for further reclamation of Waitemata Harbour for port use.
The changes, filed late on Thursday with the independent hearings panel considering the Unitary Plan, form part of the council's position at mediation on March 2 and March 3.
They show that the council supports small-scale of reclamation of 0.6ha within inner basin of Ports of Auckland on a non-notified basis. The limit will be no more than 2ha of reclamation within any 10-year period.
The council has also agreed to drop the "non-complying" activity status for further reclamation of the seabed at the end of Bledisloe wharf at a point supported by Ports of Auckland.
This will now be a a fully notified "discretionary" status, making life much easier for the port company to obtain resource consent for further reclamation.
The "tracked changes" are subject to an extraordinary meeting of the Auckland development committee where North Shore councillor Chris Darby has a notice of motion to revoke the changes.
In a secret vote on February 12, the Auckland development committee narrowly voted 9-8 to weaken its position going into mediation on zoning for the port precinct in the Unitary Plan.
Instead of sticking with the tough line of "non-complying" status decided in August 2013, the committee changed the council position to "discretionary" status.
At mediation, the council also wants to strike out the following statement: "The council is undertaking a stage two study on the future operation and development of the Port of Auckland. The results of this study may inform any changes to the port precinct provisions with regard to reclamation."
But it has inserted that reclamation can only occur if "there is no practical alternative, it will provide a significant regional benefit, it is the most appropriate form of development and potential adverse effects will be avoid, remedied or mitigated."
Mayor Len Brown, who skipped the February 12 discussion and vote to attend the Cricket World Cup opening ceremony in Christchurch, has given his strongest hint yet he supports the changes.
"We are working to put a robust legal and planning framework in place within which the port would have to build an extremely good case, with strong justification, meeting all planning conditions, to convince us reclamation would be appropriate," he said yesterday.