A structure plan for a 150-hectare block of bare land could see it developed "sooner rather than later", Auckland mayor Len Brown says.
The plan is intended to inform the council's position on the land on the corner of Puhinui and Prices roads in Mangere.
It will cover future development and use as well as any potential changes to the rural urban boundary.
The council's development committee has approved the preparation of the plan and it is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
The move has put a bid to develop the land, which has been before the council since 2010, on hold.
A group of developers, Southern Gateway Consortium, wants to rezone the land from rural to business use.
But Brown anticipates the structure plan will be a faster method of affecting change.
It is also intended to honour previous agreements made between the council and iwi.
Those date back to the late 1980s when representatives from Auckland Airport, iwi and the Manukau City Council agreed to a bridge being built across Pukaki Creek so people could access the airport by road.
That decision was made on the basis that no further subdivision of the area would be undertaken, Brown says.
"It was a very significant agreement and concession by iwi to allow that to happen."
Going ahead with a plan change would be "crazy" against the backdrop of that agreement, the mayor says.
"The only way we can abide by the history of that land is to do it in an agreed way and try and get it by way of consent. And if we do that, I think it'll be far faster than trying to batter it through the court system with a plan change."
Iwi, the council, airport representatives and other stakeholders are all collaborating on the structure plan.
Brown says there are significant pressures for business-zoned land around the city and the Puhinui Rd block presents a "premium" opportunity.
Representatives from the Southern Gateway Consortium declined to speak to Fairfax Media about the development.
- Fairfax Media