A subdivision beside one of Auckland's most popular parks once advertised for sale to "well-heeled beach bums" is set to become a haven for lizards, fish and birds.
They will get better habitats and a helping hand to thrive under resource consent conditions for reshaping hills and gullies to take 2500 houses on a farm behind Long Bay Regional Park.
After a plan forged over a decade of controversy and court wrangles, North Shore City Council has granted consents for preliminary site works.
The consents cover only 21ha of the 178ha of a Todd Property Group subsidiary, which took over from original developer Landco.
The main earthworks needed to stabilise the slopes for roading and sites will be done between October and April.
North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams says conditions of consent will not prevent a significant impact of building on the Long Bay skyline but they will offer some environmental benefits.
In the first area to be developed, the company and the council will share the cost of forming a 2.5ha wetland on the flats beside the Awaruku Stream.
This will take stormwater from 200ha of present housing in Torbay and Awaruku and new homes in the 21ha subdivision.
A major concern arising in consent hearings was the risk of soil run-off from the development spoiling the beach and marine reserve.
Sediment in stormwater will be settled out in ponds before discharge into the wetland and further water cleansing measures include deepening the stream with a weir and building rock spillways. Willows and weeds along the stream will be replaced with native shrubs.
Council ecologist Peter Anderson found the polluted and weed-infested stream was surprisingly busy with eels and inanga, pest fish species and even freshwater turtle.
He said the proposals would benefit aquatic life and rare wetland birds.
Earthworks will destroy lizard habitats such as old logs and Todd spokesman Sifa Taumoepeau said it would collect lizards rom the work area and release them to a special site which would have a weed and rat control regime for five years.
Mr Taumoepeau said the company would undertake a monitoring programme to check the efficiency of the weir on the wetland to allow native fish passage.
Monitoring requirements covered construction sediment discharges from temporary treatment ponds and any sediment on the inter-tidal rock reef downstream of the works.
Todd expects to pay $125,000 for environmental measures, excluding the wetland share.
The company is also preparing an interim management plan to protect heritage sites on a 19ha reservation on the Awaruku headland.