Auckland will not solve the city's affordable housing crisis by loosening heritage rules, says the heritage lobby.
Advocates will today argue for strong rules to protect the city's heritage when they appear before the panel hearing submissions on the council's Unitary Plan, or planning rulebook, for the Super City.
Business groups and property developers have advocated loosening restrictions in the Unitary Plan relating to heritage and character, particularly in older, central city suburbs, to boost the housing supply.
An OECD report last week 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.
In a Herald on Sunday column, business commentator Bernard Hickey said heritage rules prevented more dense housing development in the likes of Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Mt Eden, Remuera, Parnell and Epsom.
The council has tightened the heritage rules in the proposed Unitary Plan with a pre-1944 demolition control and replaced the term "special character" with "historic character". The hearings panel will make final recommendations to the council next year.
The Character Coalition, made up of 60 community and heritage groups, will today argue that loosening the heritage rules in the expensive inner-city character suburbs will not solve the affordable housing crisis.
Anything built in the character suburbs will be too costly for those who urgently need a house, and much will be destroyed in the process, the coalition says.
Queensland government architect Malcolm Middleton is appearing for the coalition today to explain a pre-1945 demolition control used in Brisbane for 17 years.
He will give evidence that character areas have the potential to increase density and, in Brisbane, very high density has occurred in locations close to character zones.
Similar high-density locations exist in Grafton, Newmarket, lower Parnell, Newton, Ellerslie and Greenlane, Mr Middleton said.
Architect Graeme Burgess, who sits on the council's Heritage Advisory Panel, strongly supports the new term "historic character".
It would give better direction for what he called the pre-1944 "wooden suburbs", which, he said, were nationally and internationally significant.
"No other city in the world has anything to match the extent and variety of historic development of timber houses, and the domestic lifestyle over time that these places represent," he said.
Mr Burgess said Westmere, an interwar suburb of mostly bungalows, deserved greater recognition before the historic character of its streets was overwritten with new development.
• Business says heritage rules are hindering housing supply.
• Heritage groups say loosening rules will not help affordable housing crisis.
• Loosening rules will do more damage than good, they say.
• Independent hearings panel considering heritage rules for Unitary Plan.
• Panel to make final recommendations to council next year.