Wellington's Waterfront Watch group has won its case in the Environment Court to stop big developments going ahead along part of the city's harbourside without public consultation.
In 2009, the Wellington City Council introduced a rule called Variation 11 which cleared the way for new buildings up to 30 metres high along the northern-most end of the waterfront.
The Environment Court said on Thursday that 30 metres is not in keeping with the rest of the area, which includes heritage buildings.
It says new buildings should be no more than 22 metres and some parts of the precinct should not even be developed at all.
Waterfront Watch president Pauline Swann is delighted with the decision and especially pleased the court has told the council it must now consult the public.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown never supported Variation 11 and is pleased with the ruling, but says it does not mean "no" to future development.
"We now have to say the Environment Court has upheld the view of the appeal that said we should have more modest buildings. The Environment Court has not said no buildings, they've just said the footprint must be more modest."