A Howick real estate agent fighting to stop housing development ruining one of the city's most "treasured" harbour view hopes to raise $300,000 to take Auckland Council to court.

Janet Dickson launched a Givealittle page to raise the costs as part of a last ditch attempt by local residents to save the panoramic views from Stockade Hill reserve in the city's east.

The 360 degree vistas sweep from Auckland city over "eight habitable islands" and at least six volcanoes, including Rangitoto and Waiheke Islands as well as the Coromandel and Little Barrier Island in the distance.

Yet a 2015 Auckland Council decision to rezone land around the hill and allow taller homes to be built has threatened the views and triggered a two-year battle with residents.


Dickson's now taking the matter to the Environment Court, running a "huge financial risk" and putting her home loan at risk.

"Either we win this battle we are taking on or the views from Stockade Hill and around are gone forever," she said.

It's a stand backed by many Howick locals, who say they are furious Auckland Council won't listen to them.

Hundreds have protested at council meetings, about 6700 have signed an earlier petition against the changes and the Howick Ratepayers Association unsuccessfully took the matter to the High Court.

They say Stockade Hill is important for all Aucklanders as the site of a war memorial and ramparted stockade built in 1863 by settlers fearing an attack from Maori warriors during the New Zealand Land Wars.

This was earlier recognised by heritage zoning that required new homes to be built in a manner that protected the views.

But Dickson and her supporters believe council planners made a mistake in 2015 when drafting Auckland's main planning document - the Auckand Unitary Plan.

Under the plan many bus routes were zoned "mixed-urban" to allow for higher density housing to be built in areas where people had easy access to public transport.

Dickson said planners appear to have overlooked Stockade Hill's public value and rezoned it because it lay on a bus route.

She said residents aren't against higher density housing but believe there are many more appropriate places to allow it.

They are mostly concerned with a handful of houses closest to Stockade Hill, possibly fewer than 50 properties.

These are homes that planning changes would allow to be developed to heights that would impede the view by effectively creating a 360 degree wall around the hill, she said.

Homes further away, down the natural slope of the land could be built higher and would likely not affect the view.

However, Auckland Council general manager plans and places John Duguid said council had listened to residents by proposing a recent amendment.

Howick resident Janet Dickson says she is running a
Howick resident Janet Dickson says she is running a "huge financial risk" taking the matter to the Environment Court.

This would protect 137 degrees of sea views from Stockade Hill by restricting homes in this line of site to heights no greater than 8-9 metres, or two storeys' high, he said.

This "protected" view would stretch - when standing on the hill's summit - from Rangitoto Island in the west to the headland of Howick Beach in the east.

Elsewhere, around the hill's edge, homes would be permitted to rise to 12m, or three storeys' high - up from previous height restrictions of 8m.

Duguid said the decision had been made in accordance with procedures laid out in the Unitary Plan about how to decide whether a view was important enough to protect.

An independent commission backed the council's decision in a hearing held in April.

Despite submissions from many concerned residents, the commission said it could give little weight to their opinions because they had no experts to back their case.

Dickson said the amendment doesn't go far enough to protect the sea views and does nothing to protect the beautiful views across other parts of Auckland.

She said that is why so much money is needed to hire experts to build the residents' case for the appeal to the Environment Court.

Barrister Alan Webb - a specialist in environmental law - is representing Dickson and the Howick residents.

He said he would first look to use experts to demonstrate the historical and public significance of Stockade Hill to show why it needed protecting.

Then he would look to use planning and other experts to devise a plan about how the hill could be protected in balance with development opportunities in the area.

Dickson said she is "disgusted" and "frustrated beyond words" that exhausted Howick residents are being forced to raise cash from the community to fight the taxpayer funded Auckland Council.

But ultimately, she said Howick residents had been left with no choice.

"My husband and I thought very seriously about launching this appeal and putting our neck out," she said.

"But we believe the public will rally behind and that we will win the case."