Key Points:

In many parts of Papamoa, if you want to get anywhere, you have to drive.

The suburban sprawl spreads along more than 10km of Tauranga's coastline before coming to an abrupt end, and shopping centres and other amenities are too far to stroll to for many residents.

But a new development at the eastern end of Papamoa aims to put the focus on walking.

It also aims to recreate a village feel through designs that encourage neighbours to mingle in small clusters of shops, superettes and cafes within walking distance of their homes.

The designs incorporate energy-efficient materials and aim to fit in with the coastal environment, and in this way, Excelsa Village is marketing itself as a sustainable development with a community focus.

The $100 million development is not unique in trying to provide residents with amenities close to home, but reflects a growing trend in urban design that aims to cut down on the use of cars and encourage people to live greener lives.

The first 10 houses in Excelsa are scheduled to be finished next month. Development company Bluehaven Management says they offer a change from post-World War II suburban sprawl and a return to village living.

"It's the social capital side of it, where people are encouraged to know each other and interact," general manager Jason Macdonald says.

Streets are narrow to discourage driving, and large grass areas in the centre of the roads are designed for children to play outside together.

Driveways are at the back of homes, which are weatherboard and painted in neutral colours to blend with the beach environment.

The dwellings have capacity for solar power and all planting is native.

Sections are smaller than in traditional suburbs, and the developers plan a mix of standalone houses, terraced houses and apartments.

Not all Papamoa residents support the development, fearing the intensive nature of the buildings will ruin the character of the area.

But Tauranga City Council has approved the plans as fitting its "live, work, play" strategy. Mayor Stuart Crosby said the village had many unique features not seen in other areas of the city. "Excelsa is really the pilot for the future."