Wellington's spatial plan has been described as a "childish wish for housing" by one resident, who has compared the capital's heritage to the ancient city of Rome.
Wellington City Council received almost 3000 submissions from individuals and organisations on how and where the capital's growing population should be housed over the next few decades.
The spatial plan proposal has sparked considerable debate in the community, mainly around striking the right balance between housing densification and heritage protection.
Resident Stephen Minto said he lives in a five-storey apartment block in Mt Victoria that accommodated about 15 people.
He said the building replaced two large colonial villas, which would probably have housed the same number of people.
"Fifteen is a drop in the ocean of the accommodation needs supposedly for Wellington," he said.
"The idea that you would destroy Wellington's heritage forever to build that type of development, which would not solve Wellington's accommodation problems, is crazy."
Minto said heritage has huge economic, tourism and quality-of-life values.
"Previous people's lives are in there. It would be like pulling down Rome. Rome was a colonial city, but we still wouldn't pull it down. This spatial plan, I believe, it's too much of a childish wish for housing."
He said heritage areas should not have to carry the full "burden" of housing the people of Wellington.
"The obvious solution is to make the ugly eyesore, the semi-industrial areas of Wellington, the new areas for medium- to high-density housing - Te Aro in particular."
Cycling advocate Patrick Morgan urged councillors to listen carefully to the people most affected by this decision, which he said was those disadvantaged by the current state of the property market.
"These are hard-working people in their 20s and 30s who are effectively shut out of the market and forced to live in substandard housing."
Wellington resident Stephanie Cairns is 31 years old and lived in 10 flats before becoming a homeowner.
"I've lived in at least three turn-of-the-century houses that should not be on the rental market, they are straight up health hazards. I lived in a place in Hataitai that had a literal swamp out the front next to my bedroom."
She said she got so sick she had to take weeks off work.
She described another house she lived in as a "rat-invested crumbling old villa".
Cairns has now developed adult asthma, which she pointed out was costing the Government through the subsidy of her inhaler every month.
"Heritage housing is pretty but we have to prioritise people's health and affordability over that."
Cairns said she was only able to purchase a house after her mother gave her and her sister $300,000 from the proceeds of selling her own house in Wellington.
The feedback will shape the final spatial plan and will influence the formulation of the city's next District Plan, which is the document that sets the rules for the development of the city.
Mayor Andy Foster said the planning status quo was not a realistic option.
"But my intention is that the finished District Plan is one that'll lead to Wellington being an even more attractive and liveable place for thousands of more people."
Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Milford told councillors they were being too conservative in areas like Kent and Cambridge Terraces, Te Aro, and parts of Adelaide Rd.
He said building heights in those areas should be extended to at least 20 storeys.
"If you give the opportunity to go up to a higher building, you'll push the price of the land up.
"Actually the people who are holding the land with single storey buildings there at the moment will suddenly decide they'd make a better return, so it'll just speed up the process."
Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association engagement vice president Joanna Li said they "wholeheartedly" supported the spatial plan.
She said students were being forced to study remotely because they couldn't afford to live in the city.
Li said students added to Wellington's vibrancy and culture.
"We can contribute so much to the city, but the city has to take care of us first."