The potential for up to 500 new Whanganui properties has been created with the Otamatea West plan change getting the green light.

Whanganui district councillors signed off the plan this week with the changes expected to allow development "on a scale Whanganui hasn't seen for a long time".

About 50ha of rural lifestyle land will be rezoned residential on the south side of State Highway 3 either side of Tirimoana Place.

Minimum lot sizes in the rezoned land will be 800sq m which is double the 400sq m minimum in the rest of the city while existing residential land in Otamatea will drop from 1000sq m to 400sq m.

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"Potentially we're looking at 450 to 500 extra houses through this plan change. That is very significant," council's principal planner Hamish Lampp told councillors.

"Today is about determining Whanganui's future housing supply. It's about housing development capacity and really it's about Whanganui's long term future.

"There is clearly development pressure in the area and this plan change looks to address that pressure and address the city's housing supply. It's probably best described as responsive planning."

Whanganui District Council principal planner Hamish Lampp. Photo/ Bevan Conley
Whanganui District Council principal planner Hamish Lampp. Photo/ Bevan Conley

Lampp said the plan change would complement development in Springvale.

"We might be at the urban fringe but this is not urban sprawl because it's carefully co-ordinated," he said.

"Multiple growth fronts is a good thing.

"It creates additional housing choices for our residents as well as new residents coming to Whanganui.

"It's about increasing housing diversity and it will increase the range of house and land packages available in Whanganui."

An independent panel of commissioners met in December to hear public submissions submissions on the plan change.

It endorsed the plan but asked for changes to identify any sites of cultural significance.

Councillor Rob Vinsen said it was the most significant planning decision he had seen in a decade on council.

"This plan change addresses the affordability and the attractiveness of living in Whanganui," he said.

"It creates residential addresses in desirable areas which is very important for attracting people from out of time.

"I think the forcast of 3000 new dwellings required before 2065 gives us an indication that this plan change, being only 15 per cent of that, leaves us with a situation where we must find more property."

Submitters can appeal council's decision to the Environment Court before October 26.