The heritage lobby is predicting wholesale destruction of the city's character suburbs following an interim call to loosen heritage rules.
The independent panel hearing submissions on the council's Unitary Plan has rejected a council proposal to protect all pre-1944 houses not already covered by special character or heritage controls.
The panel said based on evidence, the pre-1944 buildings are not deserving of historic heritage scheduling or inclusion in a special character area.
The panel does not support the inclusion of additional special character areas in the plan "at this stage" and says they should be addressed by a future plan change - a legal process that can drag on for years.
"The pre-1944 demolition control overlay is placing unnecessary constraints and burdens on landowners seeking to develop their properties," the panel said in a interim guidance decision released yesterday.
There was no evidence, the panel said, to suggest pre-1944 buildings were at any significant risk of demolition, relocation or areas were at risk of losing their character.
Sally Hughes, a spokeswoman for the Character Coalition - made up of 60 heritage and community groups - called the decision a bombshell for heritage and a win for the pro-development lobby.
"Clearly they have listened to all the submitters who are saying heritage is getting in the way of their development aspirations," she said.
An OECD report last month about New Zealand's economy said new heritage overlays stopping the redevelopment of land occupied by pre-1944 homes were among the blockages to more dense development on the Auckland isthmus.
The "interim guidance" is just that, and the council will have the final say on heritage rules when the panel makes final recommendations on the Unitary Plan, or planning rulebook for the city. This is likely to be towards the end of next year.