A Whangarei brothel operating from a riverside motel next door to a childcare centre that's being built has been given 30 days to get a resource consent or close after it was found to be operating outside the hours permitted in that area.

Whangarei District Council (WDC) regulatory services manager Grant Couchman said the council had received a complaint about a brothel in a motel which is in a Living 1 Environment. This means because of District Plan rules, hours of operation for commercial activities are limited to between 8am and 6pm.

The brothel is The Bach, which calls itself an 'ethical brothel', operates in the Marina Court Motel on Riverside Dr. The motel is right next door to where a childcare centre is being built.

A WDC spokeswoman said staff confirmed the commercial brothel operation is operating outside of the permitted hours for the living environment zone the motel is in.

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Antonia Murphy, the owner of The Bach, which opened in January, said she was told by the council yesterday afternoon of the need to get a resource consent.

The council said the brothel must apply for and get resource consent within 30 days or close. The Bach operation hours are 10am to 10pm, according to the website.

Ms Murphy said it would be business as usual for her and she was seeking legal advice.

She said she found it hard to believe that a motel that had been operating in the area for so long was only zoned Living 1 Environment.

Because the brothel was a separate business within the motel it needed separate resource consent.

Bev Ngaropo, chairwoman of the Forum North Childcare and Education Centre, said that in April 2013 the centre identified the site next to the Marina Court Motel as the best option for relocation.

She said the centre still planned to move from the Fire Brigade Hill location to Riverside Dr despite the brothel opening next door.

"My concern is, I don't know anything about it, but how can a business like that operate without anybody knowing? Also, they are operating from a location which clearly has an established community of children amongst it. We have the Sea Scouts, we have the loop, we have the dance studio across the road."

However, Ms Murphy said she believed the brothel and the childcare centre were compatible.

"We don't have scantily clad ladies walking around, we have a discreet business that should not be visible at all to anyone who is not involved."

Ms Ngaropo said she found out about the brothel through a newspaper article.

"I feel for the neighbours that are there now because they're probably just as surprised as we are. We have voiced concerns because we went through quite a lengthy and arduous process to get resource consent because of concerns in the area that we were going to operate a childcare centre and that was very public," Ms Ngaropo said.

She was also concerned that because there was free childcare offered on site of the brothel people may think the Forum North Childcare and Education Centre would be operating that service.

"We've worked really, really hard to develop a reputation and we have put everything into obtaining the site so we can start building the centre and we just don't want anything tarnishing that," she said.

Ms Ngaropo said she would be approaching WDC over the issue and said the centre was currently getting the site ready and doing the groundwork.

"It's been longer than anticipated. We're at that stage now where we are getting things underway."