The pitter patter of tiny feet is the last thing neighbours surrounding the proposed site for a childcare centre want to hear.

But Whangarei District Council said a proposal to build a 9m-high facility catering for up to 50 children was going through the correct public process and was by no means a done deal.

The relocation of Forum North Child Care centre, currently on 'Fireman's Hill' in Dent St, had not impressed neighbours of the Riverside Drive site earmarked for the centre, with one businessman describing the move as "insanity".

Allan Inglis owned Marina Court Motel and Apartments, which will be the childcare centre's neighbour if the new centre is built.


"It's insanity. From a business point of view, there is no way a childcare centre and a motel as neighbours are in any way compatible."

Mr Inglis cited child safety, noise pollution and 150 extra traffic movements as just part of the problem. Plans showed the building would add 300cu m of topsoil to the site, elevating it and making it even more imposing, he said.

"How does a 'CBD' childcare centre serve its clients in a fringe residential area?" he asked. Mr Inglis acknowledged he was keen to buy the site himself to expand his motel and apartment complex - an idea he said was compatible with the living environment.

The WDC had offered the 1346sq m site it owned to the childcare centre, which needed to move from the old villa the council also owned.

Another adjoining neighbour, Richie Hepple, said the centre's "nap room" would be metres from his deck, making him paranoid about creating noise during the day.

"It'll block out all my sun, especially in the winter. It's just too big a building for the site," he said.

A traffic assessment showed the extra 151 traffic movements would be equivalent to a 1.3 per cent increase in Riverside Drive flows to 11,650 movements per day. There had been no crashes within 50m of the site in the last five years.

The centre was expected to exceed the area's noise restrictions and its height exceeded the permitted 8m, making the proposal a discretionary activity.

Greg Innes, head of WDC's Planning Committee, said the application would be heard by impartial commissioners.

"People's views expressed one way or the other, through the media, aren't part of the process," he said.

"One of the reasons it is good to have independent commissioners [is] that council has helped this applicant find this particular location."

Mr Innes said the proposed site would be "fabulous" as it was close to educational assets like the river, jetties, artwork, sports equipment, parks and cycleways.

Forum North Child Care said it was going through the appropriate council process and had consulted with local iwi Te Parawhau, but refrained from commenting further.

WDC would retain the Fireman's Hill site.