Ambitious council plans for development on Wellington's waterfront have been knocked down to size by the Environment Court.
The council had sought to sidestep planning rules by introducing a variation to its district plan which would allow buildings up to 30 metres to be built without going through the public consultation process.
But the court, in a decision issued on Thursday, agreed with opponents that the proposal would spoil the area and the public should retain input into the waterfront's development.
The council-operated Wellington Waterfront had identified three building sites at the northern end of the waterfront.
The court says the size and height of any new buildings should be restricted and some land that was designated to be built on should remain as an open space.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the court's decision would mean any new buildings in the precinct would need to be more modest and added it would impact the future plans for the waterfront.
"There will be implications for the future development of the waterfront in terms of built form, public spaces and financial issues," she said.