Plans detailing the scope of a $1.5 billion development for 3000 homes at Tauriko West have been unveiled for the first time.
Artist impressions and broad-brush plans show the protection of the Wairoa River and shared community spaces will be enshrined in planning covering a total area of nearly 300ha.
However, the release of the plans comes as a developer warns Tauriko West could arrive too late to avoid a fresh surge in Tauranga house prices.
Peter Cooney of Classic Builders owned 136ha of the rolling farmland beside the Wairoa River earmarked for a massive subdivision.
Classic Group's land could yield about 1300 homes worth an estimated $650 million, with Element IMF director Bryce Donne saying a realistic target for the entire growth area might be 3000 homes. Element IMF owned 60ha and the Hopping family 97ha.
Cooney was worried that by the time planning processes were completed and the first houses built, the shortage of sections on the city side of the Harbour Bridge would be really starting to bite on Tauranga's volatile house market.
Planning processes included a boundary change with the Western Bay District Council so that all the development area was controlled by the city council, and rezoning the land to residential.
"We need to move quickly - affordability is an issue. We all know land is in short supply," he said.
Cooney's warning comes as The Lakes was entering the final stages of its development, with no other big greenfield subdivision on the horizon until 2021 for people who did not want to live in Papamoa.
Cooney said everyone agreed that Tauriko West had to happen because there was a looming shortage of land, creating greater affordability issues.
"There is no question it could happen more quickly, the council needs to give staff the tools and motivation to make it happen.
''It is amazing how everyone is crying out for affordable houses and it takes years to get things up and running,'' he said, adding that planning decisions impacting on Tauriko West had already taken two years.
Mayor Greg Brownless said he shared Mr Cooney's concerns and agreed that the sooner the land came to the market, the more competition there would be to get house prices down.
"I am more than happy to talk to staff about ways to speed up the process. But if we go in too early, there is a risk that the council could end up holding infrastructure costs for longer. It is a balancing act."
The Tauranga City Council is seeking a boundary change with the Western Bay District Council so that all the development area was controlled by the city council, and rezoning the land to residential.
Classic Group director Matt Lagerberg said there would be a big focus on creating community areas in Tauriko West, with land bordering the Wairoa River to be for the enjoyment of everyone.
"Houses will be set well back. We are really conscious about the importance of the river and getting an outcome that will work for everyone. We are totally anti putting houses beside the river.''
Lagerberg said everyone was positive about Tauriko West and Classic Group was totally focused on the price range of houses. They were prepared to come to the table with solutions, but it needed the co-operation of the council.
''It can be done, but it is a collective thing.''
Element IMF director Bryce Donne said the city council was leading the process and they were participating with everyone else, including a representative of the Hoppings.
''Everyone has to come along for the ride because in a planning process you don't have to be big to make things difficult. But everyone is listening and taking part in the process, it is going well.''
The lawyer acting for the Hopping family which had farmed in the valley for 90 years was not available for comment.
A meeting this week of Western Bay's urban planning group SmartGrowth saw regional councillor and former Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby seeking an assurance that the ''roading shambles'' at Tauriko would be fixed before new houses added to the problem.
SmartGrowth's independent chairman Bill Wasley responded saying ''point well made''.
The meeting was told that the New Zealand Transport Agency was working on realigning SH29 to give a gateway into Tauriko West.
Public consultation on infrastructure plans for Tauriko West were expected to take place next year. A small shopping centre and a major destination playground were on the drawing board.
Timeline for development of Tauriko West's 293ha
Infrastructure planning: 2017-2018
Plan change notification (RMA process): mid to late 2018
Sections on the market: Staged process from 2021