A transport lobby group is calling for Tauranga's airport and racecourse to move so their land can be used for medium-high density housing.
A co-leader of Greater Tauranga, former city councillor Heidi Hughes, said that in her view Tauranga City Council's Long-term Plan did not address traffic congestion or housing affordability and a new sustainable plan was required.
Creating medium-high density housing at the airport and racecourse sites would address traffic congestion and the "really acute" housing crisis.
It would also have economic, social and environmental benefits, she said.
"Our biggest pain point right now for this city is traffic," Hughes said.
"When you have a big footprint for single-storey housing, you have a much larger distance people have to travel using their cars. It's more difficult to run a transport system.
"If you have a denser suburb, all of the amenities can be in much closer proximity to the people who are living there."
Hughes said the footprint of higher-density housing was smaller, which meant more room for green spaces and wildlife.
Socially, people had a greater ability to connect with each other, and economically, medium-high density housing meant people were more likely to shop and work locally.
"There's a lot more wealth going around within the activity area rather than having it sprawled out across a large area."
Hughes estimated 10,000 homes could be built if the airport and some heavy industries were moved from Mount Maunganui, and 1800 homes and two schools could be built on the racecourse land. Both sit on publicly owned land.
The submission was put together with contributions from planners, architects, engineers and urbanists.
Hughes said the thinking behind moving the racecourse and airport was not new but Greater Tauranga wanted to highlight the ideas due to the city's population growth and Covid-19.
"It was a rural racecourse and this was an airport for a city of 55,000 but now we're rapidly growing. We're a city of 140,000. We're looking down the barrel of being a city of 400,000," she said.
It was about creating housing "in places where people want to live instead of sprawling down the coast and letting everybody else deal with the fallout of what that involves, which is massive congestion".
"Greenfield sprawl is not going to create long-term affordability for housing. It's going to exacerbate the current crisis."
The submission suggested moving the airport to a "regional location" and making the racecourse part of a "new regional racing and rural multi-activity venue" but did not suggest specific location alternatives.
Racing Tauranga chairman Carl McComb was against the idea of developing the Tauranga Racecourse land for housing, and had also made a submission to the Long-term Plan.
McComb said one purpose of the submission was "to recognise that we are a historic racecourse that has been around for 148 years and would like it to remain protected in perpetuity".
He also wanted the council to recognise the investment made by stakeholders into the reserve's amenities and facilities, which was used by community groups and businesses for functions and events.
He wanted the council to remove any mention of the racecourse and housing from its Te Papa Spatial Plan, with the only acceptable reference being having the land as a historic reserve.
"I think it's a valuable asset - it's a great reserve and it's really the jewel in the city's crown we believe," McComb said.
The Te Papa Spatial Plan recognised Te Papa peninsula was well placed to support some population growth and identified the racecourse, in Greerton, as an area that could be developed for housing.
The Bay of Plenty Times approached the Tauranga City Council, which owns the airport, for comment but a spokesperson said the council generally did not comment on submissions until after deliberations. The deliberations are set to happen next week.
Moving the airport and racecourse were two of five projects proposed by Greater Tauranga to build a sustainable city.
The other three projects included delivering high-density housing in Tauranga city to address the economic decline of the CBD and the housing shortage, developing a regional park in Te Tumu East and developing an intercity rail network between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.
Hughes is scheduled to present the group's submission to commissioners at council chambers tonight.