A maritime village with canals and a lock as well as 297 homes is being proposed for the lower reaches of the Wairoa River about 5km northwest of Clevedon.

The maritime village proposal and a request for a district plan change has been lodged with the Manukau City Council in the first step of a lengthy planning process.

Investors in the Wairoa Canal Development Partnership headed by developer Derek Presland want the maritime village to be different from Gulf Harbour on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

The Wairoa River maritime village will be all residential, with no apartments or commercial developments as at Gulf Harbour.

There have been two previous proposals to create residential developments on the banks of the Wairoa River. In the late 1980s a proposal for a 375-berth marina including a clubhouse, recreational facilities and six homes did not go ahead.

In 1995 there was a proposal for a 1100-house township with commercial facilities based around canals.

The new proposal comprises a residential zone of 44ha and a recreation zone of 85ha, which will remain private with public access.

Because the canals will be on the Wairoa River with a maximum spring tidal range of 2.7m, the interface between the river and the canals will be controlled by a lock and weir system, owned and operated by a body corporate, enabling continual boating access to village homes regardless of the tide.

The plan is expected to include reserves and wetland and native vegetation habitats. Public access, not currently available, will be created to the lower reaches of the river.