Auckland councillors have been "strongly advised" not to attend any public meetings, seek public views or respond to posts on social media as the Unitary Plan nears completion.
Senior officers have told councillors they must maintain an open mind on upcoming decisions on the plan, the new planning rulebook that sets out what can be built and where.
A memo to councillors was issued on May 13 after formal hearings finished and an independent hearings panel begins work on recommendations to council by July 22.
A council spokeswoman said the memo was in response to a request from members of the Auckland Development Committee to provide guidance about their role as "decision-makers in waiting".
"It's critical for the public to understand that the Unitary Plan is a unique statutory process for Auckland," said the spokeswoman, who provided a copy of the memo to the Herald.
She said preserving the integrity of plan decision-making process was crucial and for that reason chief executive Stephen Town and director legal and risk Katherine Anderson provided guidance in the period between the panel finishing public hearings in May and the governing body making final decisions in August.
The memo said councillors could still make broad policy statements about views on the plan, but were "strongly advised" to steer clear of any formal community or public meetings, acknowledge the receipt of any further written material, seek the views of constituents or other people and not respond positively or negatively to posts on social media.
Mayoral candidate and Orakei Local Board member Mark Thomas said the memo was typical council "bunker mentality" and would raise community hackles.
"This note seems to be a reflection that the organisation knows it's on the back foot with its public communication around the Unitary Plan.