The days of tiny "shoebox" apartments in Auckland could come back if a new rule in the unitary plan is passed.

The Auckland Council draft unitary plan is proposing to reduce the minimum apartment size from 35 square metres to 30sq m plus a minimum balcony space of 8sq m.

This is a reversal of a decision taken by the former Auckland City Council in 2007 to increase the minimum size from 30sq m to 35sq m - or 30sq m plus a 5sq m balcony.

The city council was responding to concerns about "shoebox" apartments and poor-quality urban design.


At the time, the city's smallest apartments were about 12sq m. The Columbard building in Wyndham St, which is now a budget hotel, advertised apartments of 16sq m when it opened in 2004.

At the time of the opening, a Corrections Department representative said double-bunk prison cells were usually about 16sq m, depending on the age of the prison.

Many buildings built in the early 2000s in the Auckland CBD were approved without public notification.

Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer said the proposed new rule was a throwback to the bad old days that would allow developers to build blocks of 20-30sq m apartments.