Auckland Mayor Len Brown and councillors are under pressure to say where they stand on unlimited housing density in suburbs across the city.

Faced with community fears about changes to neighbourhood streets and lobbying by council planners and the development sector to free up suburban land for intensification, the council yesterday put off a decision until today.

There is no issue more controversial than suburban intensification at a three-day meeting of councillors and local board chairs to wrap up the new planning rulebook for the city - or Unitary Plan - for formal notification next month.

North Shore councillor Ann Hartley - who earned the nickname "High Rise Hartley" for earlier support of intensification - is now leading a move to scrap unlimited density and dial back other controls in a new mixed housing suburban zone that covers 40 per cent of residential Auckland.


She has been working with the Auckland 2040 movement set up to oppose haphazard suburban development and Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chairman Chris Darby to focus intensification in the new mixed housing urban zone closer to town centres, and a terrace housing and apartment building zone.

Last night, Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse and her supporters were working on a compromise that would still scrap unlimited density, but allow for one house per 250sq m on sites larger than 1200sq m, subject to a design assessment.

The New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Auckland branch, Property Council and developer Mark Todd are urging councillors not to backtrack on density provisions.

NZIA Auckland branch chairman Richard Goldie said councillors ought to turn their attention to the issue of the quality of buildings within the two mixed housing subzones.

Property Council chief executive Connal Townsend said the council must continue with the current density targets in the draft Unitary Plan.

Mr Todd has emailed councillors to say they have little understanding of how to motivate the private sector to build smaller, more affordable housing in places people want to live.

After the first day, the council made just one decision - an amendment from councillor Cathy Casey to increase the amount of affordable housing on new developments of 15 or more houses from 7 per cent to 10 per cent.