Developers say city officials are not moving fast enough to free up land for development as one predicts Tauranga will run out of land in two years.
But the mayor says he does not want a "development free-for-all" when the city is still trying to manage the impacts of rapid growth.
Classic Builders director Peter Cooney said the time the council was taking to make zoning and consent decisions was driving up the cost of development, making it harder to deliver affordable homes.
He said the company had $50 million invested in the 350ha Tauriko West development, which was awaiting rezoning.
According to council estimates building was expected to start in 2021 - the same year it will be due to start at the 760ha Te Tumu development in Papamoa East.
Together the two greenfield developments were expected to provide 10,000 new dwellings to house more than 22,000 people.
Council city and infrastructure planning manager Andrew Mead said that was about 20 per cent of the 50,000 new houses Tauranga was projected to need within 50 years.
Cooney said if he could start building at Tauriko West this year or next, a two-bedroom house would hit the market for $400,000 to $450,000 and a three-bedroom for $450,000 to $500,000.
"We can achieve that now, but if I have got to wait four years, I'm not going to guarantee we will be in that range.
"The decisions need to be made quicker."
He predicted the city would run out of developable land in two years if the wheels of government did not turn faster.
"In two years' time, I am going to be knocking on the council's door asking where the land is because there isn't any."
Mayor Greg Brownless said developers were profit-driven and the council had "bigger considerations", such as the ratepayer burden to pay for and manage growth.
"How many people really want thousands more living here until we get the roads right?"
The city was already spreading to its borders with the Western Bay of Plenty district.
He agreed city plan changes were needed to better enable high-density developments - but those could take years.
Other development experts called for speedier decision-making, more certainty and modernised planning rules to deliver higher density and more affordable housing.
Development management expert Duarne Lankshear said high density was complex and expensive and therefore not "a silver bullet for affordability".
Scott Adams, of development group Carrus - a large Te Tumu landowner, said Tauriko and Te Tumu were "temporary solutions" and land alone would not solve Tauranga's affordability issues - consenting bodies needed to work faster.
Developers and other housing advocates disagreed on whether the council should intervene in the market through measures such as inclusionary zoning, which would require a certain proportion of affordable houses in a development.
Planner Craig Batchelor said developers did not need more rules, and developers said they were already building a variety of housing types.
Housing affordability advocate Christine Ralph agreed consenting needed to be faster and cheaper, but also supported inclusionary zoning.
"We have to do more than assume the private sector will do it automatically."
Major greenfield developments
Te Tumu in Papamoa East
- Total site size 760ha
- 340ha developable land
- 7700 dwellings
- 15,500 people
- Building to start in 2021
- Total size 350ha
- 210ha developable land
- 3000 dwellings
- 7200 people
- Housing for 15,000 people