A new $75 million commercial town centre development for Ōmokoroa just given the green light is "vital" for the suburb's growing population, community leaders say.
Independent commissioners have granted resource consent for Jace Investments Limited's privately-funded project.
The proposal would see a mixed-use retail and commercial precinct with medium density residential units and visitor accommodation established at 404 Ōmokoroa Rd.
It will include a supermarket, shops, cafes/restaurants, office space, a childcare centre and possibly a boutique-sized cinema and a civic building.
The site is the last undeveloped site in the main Ōmokoroa commercial zone and includes about 5.3ha of commercial-zoned land. Another 2.5ha has been zoned for future urban land.
Western Bay of Plenty District mayor Garry Webber said the council fully supported the decision as it was always planned for Ōmokoroa to need some form of town centre facility.
"With the Ōmokoroa Peninsula to be fully developed and home to an estimated 12,000 residents by 2060 this development will offer current and future residents a multitude of facilities and result in significant economic benefits for the Ōmokoroa community.
"This enables the council to hit the ground running with the structure plan for the balance of Ōmokoroa now we know where the town centre is going."
Ōmokoroa Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Bruce McCabe said there was widespread support in the community for this town centre plan.
"We fully support the independent commissioners' decision to grant Jace's town centre proposal, especially as our council has always intended for a town centre to be established in Ōmokoroa.
"It is also vital given the future growth of the population to some 12,000 people," he said.
"Having a town centre is essential and long overdue. I think most people would have forgotten when the land was first earmarked for this purpose it was so long ago."
McCabe also said the association hoped that if the Western Bay council eventually relocated from Barkes' Corner that it chose Ōmokoroa town centre.
"It would give a real boost to the local Ōmokoroa community for the council to locate itself in the biggest urban centre in the district.
"It would also give another good reason for residents to do their business and shop in the town centre."
Independent commissioners Jan Caunter, David Hill and David Mead heard evidence about Jace Investment Limited's resource consent application for the Western Bay of Plenty District Council at a hearing on March 8 and 9.
Yesterday, the commissioners released their written decision to approve the plans subject to a set of agreed terms and conditions for Jace Investments.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council's policy, planning and regulatory group manager Rachael Davie said the terms include milestone conditions requiring bulk earthworks to start no later than September 15, 2023.
"The applicant will also have to confirm their programme of works and give certainty to the Ōmokoroa community and to the council as to the timeframe for development."
Other conditions included no right turn into the development from the northern side and limiting access to Kaimai Views to pedestrians, cyclists and motor scooters.
In a written statement, Jace Group's director Craig Lemon said he and the company welcomed the resource consent being granted after two years of "extensive" preparation, planning and commitment.
"It is a significant moment for Jace Group, and we are looking forward to commencing operational planning following final application processes."
Kaimai Views resident Robyn Scrimshaw previously told the commissioners she opposed the plans, raising concerns about noise, dust, street lighting, and what would be built.
But Scrimshaw, who lives about 20m from the proposed town centre, said after the decision that while not all the issues raised had been addressed there were some "good outcomes" for residents.
However, in her opinion, there was still some uncertainly about the construction timeframe and the wording of one construction noise condition was "loose".
"I am sure everybody hopes that there will be an ongoing positive relationship with the developer in terms of any notifications and community engagement."
Pirirakau Incorporated Society, which supports the town centre going ahead, has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the applicant.
The society's environment manager could not be contacted for comment.
Woolworths New Zealand, which owns FreshChoice in the Tralee St retail centre, previously opposed the plans, citing potential adverse economic effects and possible job losses.
The company declined to comment on the commissioners' decision.
The Land Use and Subdivision consents are now subject to a three-week window for any appeals to be lodged with the Environment Court.