The plan which could result in almost 600 new properties in Springvale has been approved for public consultation.
Plan Change 53 (Springvale Structure Plan) proposes the continued expansion of residential development in the suburb, from Fox Rd down to Fitzherbert Ave and further south to the Titoki wetland.
Whanganui District Council planning manager Hamish Lampp said the plan change looked at opening up 60 hectares of developable land into 400sq m lots.
He told Tuesday's council meeting that ecological, traffic, archaeology and cultural value reports have been completed, along with information gathered from resident information sessions.
The assessments show low ecological value aside from the Titoki wetland, and that the existing traffic network has the capacity to sustain development of more than 600 dwellings over a 30-year period.
"[The plan] protects the heavy traffic route along Mosston Rd by limiting any new access points onto that road, it also seeks to limit intensification of existing accesses on to Mosston Rd," Lampp said.
"It protects and enhances the Titoki wetland, and in time I think you will see biodiversity gains.
"What's become quite important is the location of this growth area on the doorstep of the emerging industrial zone at Mill Rd.
"That is becoming one of our premier employment hubs and to have our nearest growth area literally adjoining that is significant, really it's something that is reflective of a sustainable development having our resident community so closely aligned with one of our major employment zones."
During the meeting Lampp explained an expected timeline to councillors, with the submission period of four to six weeks to begin this weekend.
"Assuming that we can't resolve all of the issues raised by submitters then we would go to a hearing, we may spend some time in that period seeking to resolve the issues raised, it'll just depend on the nature of them.
"Ultimately it's likely that we won't [resolve] and so we will be scheduling a hearing for as soon as we can which will likely be in December."
Lampp said it was likely there would be further engagement with iwi in regards to some of the issues raised in the cultural report.
Mayor Hamish McDouall welcomed the plan.
"Add this to the northwest structure plan and there is significant capacity for people to move and build into Whanganui which is extremely exciting, this will be obviously reliant somewhat on developers to do their work but it will ease some of the housing issues that our growth is causing," McDouall said.
"It's exciting that we can put a definite limitation on our urban spread and say Mosston Rd is the limit, we're not going to go towards Belmont and up the back there, and I think that's important because we can't have our city spreading like molasses over the landscape."
Councillor Hadleigh Reid said he shared the mayor's excitement.
"Best case scenario early next year will be the opportunity for people to start developing and that will take a long time," he said.
"I guess it's just worth considering any of these changes to try and accommodate for the significantly increased growth we have here does take a long time.
"After we do this we should probably start looking somewhere else as well."