Timetable pressures have forced the Tauranga City Council to bypass normal tendering processes to prepare resource consents for the Smiths Farm Special Housing Area.
The council this week gave retrospective approval to staff who had awarded a contract for an estimated fee of $206,750 to $216,750.
Controversy surrounded plans to develop the council-owned block after it was proposed that access would be through the neighbouring Westridge lifestyle subdivision. Westridge residents won that battle.
Council infrastructure planning team leader Andrew Mead said the resource consent would cover the preparation of subdivision, land use, earthworks and stormwater consents.
However, for Smiths Farm to be processed as a Special Housing Area under government legislation, the consents needed to be lodged by September 16.
Mr Mead said the timeframe meant the council could not undertake a competitive procurement process for the preparation of consents.
The contractor was appointed following "informal approval by elected members" and this week's meeting retrospectively approved the awarding of the contract.
The contractor was the same consultants used by the council for planning and engineering advice to establish the Special Housing Area for Smiths Farm.
"The firm is the logical provider for this next phase of work," Mr Mead said.
In May the council decided to defer development of Smiths Farm so that its completion aligned with the completion of the Tauranga Northern Link by 2022. The new road would run close to the new subdivision.
Once resource consent was granted for the infrastructural components of Smiths Farm, the council would go through a fully notified Resource Management Act plan change process to rezone the site for residential development.
In the meantime, the council proposed to go ahead with the development of rural/residential zoned buffer lots between the proposed residential subdivision and Westridge.
The plan change could take up to two years to work through, but once approved it would clear the way for the council to settle negotiations with the builder of the Northern Link, the New Zealand Transport Agency.
Mayor Stuart Crosby said last month that progressing Smiths Farm ahead of the Northern Link would have created cost and risk for any residential development and the new link road.