Ports of Auckland has won a huge victory to reclaim more of the Waitemata Harbour after the Auckland Council rejected a last gasp plea to to impose tough rules for reclamation.
In a secret vote today, the Auckland development committee voted to stick with weak rules going into mediation on zoning for the port precinct in the Unitary Plan.
Ten members of the 23-strong committee wanted to revoke the soft position and go with the tough line of "non-complying" status decided in August 2013.
On February 12, the committee changed the council position to fully notified "discretionary", which gives the public a say about further reclamation, but increases the likelihood of the port company being able to reclaim more of the seabed.
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Mayor Len Brown and deputy mayor Penny Hulse both support the soft rules, despite widespread opposition to further reclamation by urban designers, architects, Ngati Whatua, Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall and the public.
Mr Brown has promised a major study on the social, economic, environmental and cultural impacts of the ports, but not until after the new rules have been put in the Unitary Plan.
In a statement, Mr Brown said: "Right now we are engaged in a discussion about the rules that will apply to any application in the future.
"We're not deciding on future reclamation, and this is not a discussion we intend to be having at any time soon," he said.