Some rough edges have been removed from the new blueprint for Auckland - among them a possible return to the days of "shoebox" apartments.

Council officers yesterday released a number of "major policy shifts" to the latest draft of the Unitary Plan, but kept the key provisions for a new era featuring apartment living and fewer traditional single homes.

Controls around the number of dwellings allowed to be built in mixed housing zones as of right, around fences, and the deletion of pre-1940 demolition control in the Queen St valley precinct are other measures that look set to be reinstated when councillors meet tomorrow to adopt the plan to accommodate a million more residents by 2041.

Outrage over proposals to build homes on one of Auckland's most prized volcanos, Crater Hill at Papatoetoe, and near a pristine estuary north of Long Bay, has led to council officers recommending rejection of these plans.


Geologist Bruce Hayward, who has been fighting to preserve Crater Hill, said it was good news but was not celebrating victory until councillors made their final decision.

He said if the councillors reject the recommendation, the crater could be returned to the way it should have always been.

Volcanic Cones Society spokesman Greg Smith hoped the councillors would follow the officers' advice. A 149-page report for councillors recommends they accept most of the proposals from an independent hearings panel, which has permitted 422,000 new homes in the next 25 years compared with 213,000 in the original council draft plan.

It has achieved this partly by rezoning more than 30,000 single houses for more intensive housing. The central isthmus has lost 42 per cent of the single house zone for a mix of terraced houses and small-scale apartments.

Officers are recommending councillors support this level of intensification but want to tighten controls to guide where growth should occur in urban areas, and rules for rural subdivisions to avoid the loss of farmland and manage extra demands on infrastructure.

Alan Johnson, social policy analyst for the Salvation Army, said he believed there needed to be a minimum dwelling size for housing, and it was naive to think that not having them would lead to good outcomes.

"Relying on the market to set acceptable standards has been shown not to work in Auckland already."

Councillors are expected to take up to seven days to make final decisions on the Unitary Plan. Decisions are due to be notified on the council website on August 19.

Officers say the volcano is a significant geological feature with significant cultural and landscape value to Maori. Photo / Dean Purcell
Officers say the volcano is a significant geological feature with significant cultural and landscape value to Maori. Photo / Dean Purcell