A new McDonald's restaurant in Whangarei will create up to 70 jobs, but has prompted health and traffic concerns.
McDonald's confirmed they had the go-ahead for franchisees to build a restaurant on the corner of Otaika Rd (State Highway 1) and Tauroa St, across from the Gull Service Station and Bunnings at Raumanga.
"We're looking at opening later this year but, as it's early in the planning stages, the exact timing is yet to be confirmed," McDonald's spokeswoman Sarah Fitzpatrick said.
Ms Fitzpatrick said the new restaurant would create between 50 and 70 permanent jobs.
The fast food outlet was a permitted activity under the district plan, although developers needed consent for the 36 signs required. This had been granted by Whangarei District Council.
The restaurant's access would be off Tauroa St, a council arterial road in a business-zoned environment with limited restrictions on traffic movements.
Manaia PHO dietitian Daniela Johnson said it was disappointing to see the fast food chain near a low-income community.
"It's pretty sad that they would do this, but it's not unexpected. But, as a community, if people choose other options it sends a good message," Ms Johnson said.
She encouraged Raumanga families to seek out other options, such as the cheap fruit and vegetable pre-order service available from The Pulse on Raumanga Valley Rd.
"I think most people know that [McDonald's] is not cheap, it's expensive. You can feed a family far cheaper in other ways," Ms Johnson said.
McDonald's were also contacted yesterday regarding the health concerns raised but had not responded by deadline.
Derek Coradine lives on Raumanga's Smeaton Drive, which came off Tauroa St, and said the restaurant would be "good in some ways, bad in others".
His concerns were around the impact it would have on the already congested intersection between Tauroa St and SH1, which gave a free turn across the 80km/h state highway. The busy turnoff was used heavily by Raumanga residents and customers of Gull and Bunnings Warehouse.
"I don't even bother trying to turn right [out of Tauroa], I just go left. It will add congestion and make that intersection worse.
"On the other hand, it will be good to actually have something in that area," he said. The New Zealand Transport Agency manages SH1 but was unable to respond by deadline yesterday.
The restaurant franchisee is Commercial Centres Ltd.
A company spokeswoman said they were unable to comment on plans for the site at this stage, as they were bound by a confidentiality agreement.
Meanwhile, restaurant chain Wendy's would not be drawn on when they planned to open their Bank St restaurant, which they announced in 2012. A Wendy's spokeswoman said there was "nothing to report".