Work on a new Marsden Pt city, poised to create 440 jobs and attract businesses from outside Northland, is expected to start within six months.
Whangarei District Council and the Environment Court have given North Holdings, the company spearheading the move, the all-clear.
North Holdings is creating a mixture of commercial and residential development spread over 135ha within the existing Northgate and Port Marsden industrial estates
Company director Oliver Scott said work on the development of a mixed-use town centre comprising about 765,000sq m of land area was expected to start within six months.
He said commercial and industrial buildings would probably lead the construction, followed by residential units.
Stage one of the development will include 22,000sq m of retail space and 20,000sq m of other commercial activity, 250 residential house lots, 150 apartments above retail and a variety of industrial uses.
The development is part of the Whangarei District Council's structure plan which allows for 60,000sq m of net floor area for retail and 82,000sq m for non-retail commercial use.
There can be up to 2200 residential units.
Choices for residential living include detached houses, attached townhouses, terraced housing and apartments, with most around a large neighbourhood park.
A variety of urban parks, as well as pedestrian and cycle facilities, would be developed over 5ha.
Scott said new zoning would also allow for retirement living and educational facilities.
Another company, TR Developments, plans to construct a university and residential apartments close to North Holdings' project.
He said Northland's economy would get a huge boost from the project, together with a $500 million refinery expansion announced by Refining New Zealand which would create more than 350 jobs.
"There's the [Marsden] port, good climate, nice beaches and the Hoppers marine development as well and there's every likelihood that North Port will continue to expand and very easily pick up business from Auckland."
Scott expects businesses from Christchurch and elsewhere to set up shop in Ruakaka as they see the area as "one of the hot growing regions".
Roading and other infrastructure were largely in place, he said, but North Holdings would need to upgrade Casey Rd as the centre's main street and to carry out additional landscaping.
"The main thing is we now have certainty the project will happen, it's just a matter of when. It has all the hallmarks of long-term sustainable development," Scott said.
He is encouraging job-generating businesses to move into the area.
The entire project will take between 15 and 20 years to complete.
North Holdings has spent $75 million developing infrastructure at the Northgate industrial park over several years.
North Holdings' application to the district council attracted 31 public submissions.