Pāpāmoa's population is predicted to increase by more than 11,000 by 2028 - and Bay business leaders say the booming seaside suburb is in the midst of an ''evolution''.
However, there are concerns about whether the suburb's infrastructure will keep up with the rapid growth and whether a planned interchange to connect Pāpāmoa East to the Tauranga Eastern Link will be built in time to address increasing traffic congestion.
City Council projections show Tauranga's population is expected to reach 165,130 by 2028, up from 140,800 in June 2018. Pāpāmoa would see the most growth of any suburb, rising from 29,018 to 40,339 - making up 47 per cent of the city's growth over the time period.
Demand for property in the area is reflected in REINZ data, which shows the Pāpāmoa's median house price in the quarter to September rose to $682,000, hitting $770,000 in neighbouring Pāpāmoa Beach. The values had jumped 0.3 per cent and 12 per cent respectively compared to the same time last year.
Joy and Ray Anderson have lived in Pāpāmoa for more than 30 years; they remember when the area was predominantly farmland. They are concerned about the suburb's rapid growth, traffic and the pressures on infrastructure.
''Our community is amazing. There are some very, very community-minded people living here. I like that we are close to the beach and the shops and other cities, including Rotorua.''
She loves the suburb but worries that many older people could be pushed out of Pāpāmoa due to rising house values and the impact that had on rates.
Pāpāmoa Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Phillip Brown said more people wanted to live in Pāpāmoa - ''that is a given'' - but the area's rapid growth was creating traffic problems.
He supported higher density housing, including apartments which were being proposed for Te Papa Peninsula.
''Maybe that is the way to go for any future development in Pāpāmoa...otherwise we will end up sprawling all the way to Whakatāne, and it would be pretty ugly having housing all the way down there.''
In his view, the internal roading network could not handle the increased growth, and he was calling for the Pāpāmoa East interchange to be fast-tracked.
''Don't continue building and ignore the traffic because Pāpāmoa Beach Rd and Te Okuroa Drive are fairly full now.''
He also questioned who would pay for the infrastructure.
Brown believed ratepayers often subsidised projects at the detriment of other facilities.
"That is the reason why Tauranga doesn't have a town hall and a museum and all the nice things.''
Mount and Pāpāmoa ward councillor Steve Morris said the interchange was the hottest topic in Pāpāmoa East.
''The community has told me, very strongly it is needed now.''
The interchange onto the TEL would connect just before the Kaituna Bridge, near Bell Rd, at the far end of Pāpāmoa East.
''It has been an issue for years, people wanted it to be part of the TEL when it was first built ... and what will really wind people up is if the Rangiuru Business Park interchange is built first.''
In 2018 NZTA indicated it could add tolling points and Morris said the Government clipping the ticket ''was rude'' considering rates would pay for some of it, Morris said.
Last month Carrus announced it had started earthworks on Pāpāmoa Junction - a $100 million business park and residential development at Parton Rd, which could create 200 to 300 jobs.
Carrus director Scott Adams said the interchange was needed for subdivisions stretching east of Pāpāmoa, including Wairakei and the upcoming Te Tumu development, where housing is planned for 15,500 people.
Adams estimated the interchange could cost $80m and would need funding from different sectors, including the Crown, developers, targeted rates, and public companies.
"This will take a real team effort.''
Bluehaven Group chief executive Nathan York said the interchange was "absolutely critical". "Without it, there is no growth."
To support Pāpāmoa's rapid population growth, York said infrastructure such as roading, including the interchange, plus the three waters - wastewater, water supply and stormwater - was needed.
"Those are the critical elements."
"We have a huge deficit in land supply, that has a huge bearing on a number of factors. But with the land you do have, it can't be developed or constructed until we have that infrastructure in place."
Managing director of the Realty Group, which operates Eves and Bayleys, Simon Anderson said the growth was exciting. Still, it needed to be "sustainable long-term growth, not out of control-unsustainable growth''.
''The interesting thing is most cities grow north, but Pāpāmoa is against the trend and growing south. This has to be positive and good news for Te Puke.''
In terms of real estate, the suburb had continued to grow in popularity during the past 10 years.
''Typically that area attracts younger families and the schools are getting set up, so that is the sort of thing you want for a city to grow and prosper.''
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said Pāpāmoa was reaching an economy of scale where you will see an evolution of the type of businesses located in the suburb.
''It is more than construction, retail and real estate agents. You are now seeing a lot more business support professionals like accountants, marketing companies and business consultants located closer to their customers.''
''Good quality urban planning [is needed] so it remains easy to get around Pāpāmoa. The best part about living and working in Pāpāmoa is the ease of achieving a good work-life balance. Hopefully, public investment on recreation reserves, schools and healthcare are matched with the population growth.''
He said the scale of growth meant another connection to the interchange was needed, as was another water supply source at the Waiari stream.
"It is critical the council zones enough commercial and light industrial land in Pāpāmoa to ensure residents have easy access to places of employment without having to travel across the city in the morning peak traffic."
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said Tauranga's population had grown 2.5-3.5 per cent for five of the last five to six years and it was unlikely demand would slow down, despite straining our infrastructure.
''It's critical we plan well for the future; the Urban Forum and Transport Initiative and the Western Bay of Plenty Transport System plan are a couple of good examples of that.''
Tauranga City Council director of city waters Stephen Burton said he was confident the city has the necessary infrastructure projects programmed to deliver capacity to meet predicted growth in the Pāpāmoa area.
''Tauranga City Council started work on the construction of the Waiāri Water Supply Scheme in 2018 aimed at providing drinking water supply for the Papamoa and Te Tumu growth areas and is working on a long term programme of work upgrading the Te Maunga wastewater treatment plant to service the city for the next 30 years.''
Council director of transport Brendan Bisley said the council was working on the design for the Pāpāmoa Eastern Interchange.
''This work will define the form of the interchange as well as stormwater flow paths, and complete a section of the local road network adjacent to a new development.''
''We are working with land developers in the area to understand the timing for their developments and determine when the interchange will be needed to provide access.''
The Western Bay Transport System Plan lists the $80.5m interchange as being scheduled for implementation over the next three years.
The council said it has also worked with developers on plans for the future Wairakei Town Centre and was working with landowners to zone the Te Tumu Urban Growth Area.
Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency said it would be involved, but it directed all questions regarding timelines, costs and funding to the council.