Nearly one in four of Auckland's historic villas and bungalows could be rezoned for high-density housing under draft plans released by Auckland Council today.
Between 4000 and 5000 of the 21,000 homes with heritage values in Special Character Areas could be demolished.
Parts of the inner city suburbs lose special character status, as do areas in Mission Bay and St Heliers.
Several of the best-known streets in Freemans Bay, including the bottom half of Franklin Rd and all of Arthur and Wood Sts, are proposed to be rezoned for five- to seven-storey apartments.
Devonport Heritage spokeswoman Margot McRae was pleased to see Cheltenham has not lost special character status as had earlier been feared, but was concerned to see parts of Stanley Pt and a 200m walkable area from the Devonport main street were under threat of being bulldozed for apartments.
"I'm very disappointed with Stanley Pt. There are some magnificent houses along there," she said.
Council heritage manager Noel Reardon said the top part of Franklin Rd will retain special character status, but not the block closer to the commercial area at the bottom to allow more housing density close to the central city.
Arthur and Wood Sts have had a lot of redevelopment, subdivision and infill housing that has compromised their character values, he said.
Character Coalition spokeswoman Sally Hughes was very disappointed with the draft plans, saying they will seriously undermine Auckland's heritage when so much land is available for new housing.
"It's gutting to see large areas of Freemans Bay, Remuera, and St Marys Bay on the chopping block for destruction," she said.
Hughes said more than 60 Auckland groups launched a Givealittle campaign titled "Auckland Deserves Better" to engage professional advisers as part of their submissions.
"If there's one thing Auckland Council knows already, it's that Aucklanders love their city and nobody walks in and steals it without encountering a strong defence."
The idea of intensifying suburbs close to the central city was contrary to the future of remote working and a changing business model, she said.
Council's chief of strategy Megan Tyler said the council is trying to balance new directions from the Government for intensification against people's desire to keep the city's special character and values.
She said the question of special character will be where and how much, but it's clear from the Government's directives Auckland cannot have what it has now.
"I don't think anyone is going to be happy ultimately," said Tyler.
The potential loss of thousands of kauri homes that form part of Auckland's identity stems from the passing of the Housing Enabling Bill, supported by Labour and National.
Under the bill, passed in December, people will be able to build up to three homes of up to three storeys on most sites with few planning rules and won't need a resource consent. Large sites can be subdivided for more housing.
The Government has also lifted the requirement for parking on multiple housing developments at the same time Auckland Transport plans to remove kerbside parking.
The Labour and National parties believe the new law will see as many as 105,500 extra houses built across the country in less than a decade.
As well, the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) requires the council to enable buildings of six storeys or more within walking distance of the city centre, 10 large metropolitan centres and around train stations and stops on the Northern Busway. It also requires the council to enable greater heights and density within and around Auckland's other suburban centres, like Glenfield and Howick.
Under the law, the council has discretion to consider "qualifying matters" for exemption, such as heritage and areas at risk from natural hazards.
A review of the Special Character Areas (SCA) has assessed whether each property has high, medium or low qualities. Only high-quality houses will retain special character status. Medium- and low-quality houses will lose protection and be rezoned.
Each house has been tested against six criteria - scale, relationship to street, period of development, typology, architectural style and level of physical integrity. Houses have to pass five of the six criteria to retain special character status.
For practical purposes, boundaries are being set in areas where most houses have high heritage qualities.
Reardon said the council cannot choose to "roll over" existing special character protections, given the Government's clear requirements to enable more housing density.
"Where there are existing areas not identified as special character it's because they have not retained their special character value," he said.
Tyler said the council's Unitary Plan had been the blueprint for New Zealand and taken up in large amounts through the NPS-UD and the Housing Enabling Act.
But she said blanket intensification compared to the compact city approach in the Unitary Plan had been lost in the changes.
"I don't think it [the Unitary Plan] has been junked but the Government has some clear expectations of how it sees Auckland and other cities developing," Tyler said.
Auckland mayor Phil Goff has backed the Government's objective of building more houses more quickly, but pointed out new building consents are running at record numbers and Aucklanders want to keep the best of the city's heritage and character.
Auckland Transport has said it is already having problems funding planned growth areas and the implications of the Government's latest measures will make the job more difficult.
For details and to view the draft planning maps go to: akhaveyoursay.nz/housing