Celebrity couple Adam Parore and Sally Ridge have won a landmark victory allowing them to demolish their 100-year-old house in the inner-city heritage suburb of Freemans Bay.

The couple can raze the large two-storey house at the end of Arthur St and build a "replica" featuring a mix of old and modern design.

The case is a blow for Mayor Dick Hubbard and pro-heritage councillors whose chest-beating last year about new rules to protect "our heritage and neighbourhoods" has taken a hit.

Adam Parore and Sally Ridge were the first to challenge rules introduced by the council last May to prevent the creep of modernisation in character suburbs such as Freemans Bay. Their house, bought two years ago for $2.42 million, is one of 16,300 zoned residential 1 and 2 that need resource consent to be demolished.

Parore told a hearing in February that they bought the house with the intention of renovating it to suit the needs of their growing family. Sally Ridge is expecting another baby.

It became apparent that the cost of doing up the house to meet the building code was too high and the couple decided to rebuild, Parore said.

Some neighbours said the new house would alter the character of the area and set a precedent for other people to remove heritage houses. Others said the old house had no architectural or historic merit.

In a written decision, planning commissioners ruled in the couple's favour. They acknowledged the house had heritage value and were unconvinced it was beyond repair but concluded that demolition would have "only minor effects on the streetscape, visual amenity and heritage character of Arthur St and Wood St".

They said the new heritage rules had still to be formally ratified and had "little legal weight" compared to the operative district plan, which allowed the removal of pre-1940 houses within a residential 1 zone.

Mr Hubbard said the decision was one of four or five where people had applied to demolish houses soon after the new rules came in. Many more applications had since been made.

Neighbours say

The removal of original homes is why streets such as Arthur St are beginning to lose their character
- Anne Alchin, Wood St

The existing house has no architectural merit and the proposed new dwelling has less visual impact.
- Roger and Susan Wall, Arthur St

A great opportunity will be lost to restore a building with specific historical connections.
- Paul Gregory, Wood St

The new building is attractive, unobtrusive and in keeping with the neighbourhood.
- Kirsty and James Stevenson, Wood St