The Auckland Regional Council is seeking a court order to cram more people into Panmure against the wishes of the community.

The ARC is worried that people power in Panmure will jeopardise a masterplan to squeeze half a million Aucklanders into high-density, multi-unit housing by 2050.

The case comes amid a major battle to convince Aucklanders - worried about leaky buildings and some recent apartment developments which look like future candidates for slum clearance - that user-friendly, high-density, quality urban design is possible.

A total of 51 centres are being targeted for intensification by Greater Auckland's seven councils.

The ARC is concerned about development controls being compromised in Panmure at an early stage of the roll-out of the high-density, residential 8 zone in Auckland City.

It has lodged an appeal in the Environment Court to overturn an agreement between Panmure residents and the Auckland City Council for medium-density development in areas zoned residential 8.

The ARC wants a three-storey, 11m height limit in a residential block between Pilkington Rd and Jellicoe Rd.

The city council and community had agreed on two storeys and 8m.

Panmure Community Action Group spokesman Keith Sharp called the appeal a slap in the face for the people of Panmure, who negotiated the Panmure Liveable Communities Plan in good faith with the city council following an exhaustive public consultation process.

ARC chairman and head of the regional growth strategy Mike Lee said the ARC was trying to be consistent about developing "intelligent intensification" in places like the 2ha site in Panmure, which was handy to rail services and the town centre.

ARC policy implementation manager Hugh Jarvis said the issue boiled down to "do we want to have growth around town centres and public transport or do we want to have sprawl?"

He said the views of local communities were valid but it was necessary to take a regional view about the need to create a compact city, and "some areas inevitably have to change and each community is going to find it difficult to accept change".

Deputy mayor Bruce Hucker said the city council would defend the commitment made with Panmure residents about height limits on 44 sites between Pilkington Rd and Jellicoe Rd.

The Liveable Community Plan included provision for three-storey, 11m-high buildings in other parts of Panmure.