The Environment Minister is allowing 2000 houses to be built in Porirua next to a protected wetland.
Minister David Parker has given a developer consent to build the homes at Plimmerton Farm, in a move he says will provide new housing to meet demand now and for future generations.
The development has been widely opposed by environmental groups amid concerns about runoff into the wetland, known as Taupo Swamp.
The developer also has a past conviction for environmental damage.
A 2013 conviction against Gillies states the clearing of vegetation from an Upper Hutt site and excavation work led to sediment in nearby waterways.
Minster Parker's decision followed a recommendation from a panel of independent experts in fields of ecology, planning, tikanga Māori, sedimentation, environmental law and urban design.
Porirua Mayor Anita Baker said a third of the site was a protected natural area, and this was taken into account in the developer's plans.
Nonetheless, she said council officers will be watching Gillies very closely.
"Greater Wellington [Regional Council] and us will be really onto that. He won't get away with anything. Everything has to be done right down to the letter of the law for the natural environment.
"I'm not worried. Our resource consent team will work on the ground with him."
Baker said the green light was a win for the region, which was in desperate need of housing.
"It gives Porirua more housing with medium-density apartments, terraced houses and retiree options, so I think it's a good balance between growth and the natural environment."