It's the planting project that's sparked a heated debate but has now been put on hold after local residents opposed the development of the Palm Beach section of the Wairakei Stream in Pāpāmoa.

"I turned up today because quite frankly I don't want to see this area devastated with these bushes that they want to put there," said one local resident, Allan Bell.

"This waterway is recognised all over the city as being a beautiful area to come to and the council want to put all these flaxes in, which in two or three years' time will just be kikuyu grass coming up amongst it and it will be a terrible sight," he said.

A local meeting organised by Tauranga City Council gave councillors a chance to address the concerns.

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"Late last week, councillor Brown and I met with the new chief executive of the Tauranga City Council. As a result the project in the Palm Beach area is now on hold. And it is on hold for as much time as we need to be able to consult with you meaningfully," councillor Steve Morris said to applause from the crowd.

Pāpāmoa councillor Leanne Brown said the council had no intention of turning the area into a wetland.

"The view of the water will not be restricted. All of the green reserve area will remain just like it is today," she said.

The council says fears that the area will be turned into a wetland are unfounded. Residents say many of their fears were caused by a lack of communication from the council.

"I think people are scared because they don't know what is happening because of the lack of consultation," local resident Bruce Cortesi said. "I think they did a good job today. The fact that they actually showed up, given that there is some hostility here and hats off to them for actually talking through that."

Aside from views being obscured, another fear was around the safety of wildlife.

"If the council does their proposed planting it will take away the access for the ducks to get to the ponds," Montego Drive resident Alena Peacock said. "There'll be an increase in rats who will be able to eat the duck eggs.

"I don't think it was ever brought to their attention, hopefully now that it has been and there are other people passionate about animals, hopefully they'll do something about it."

No further work will be undertaken for at least a year, which council says is enough time to consult the community properly, though some are still sceptical about the outcome.

"I think the council are willing to engage, but I'm not too sure that we can trust that they're going to give us the conclusion that we want. They often say things but they don't carry it out in action," said Bell.