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March 27, 2023

Nimbin’s new light industrial hub

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Facility trustee manager Jonathon Spain and skateboard manufacturer Mitch Hughes on-site at the new industrial hub. Photo Tree Faerie.

Nimbin is on the cusp of opening a new industrial space that will take the town to the next level.

Nimbin village provides necessary services to a large area and growing population – the services currently available are local markets, various retail, food, café, grocery shops, medical and other professional services, but there has been no real light industrial precinct.

Jonathan Spain, who is part of a trust creating the new space, says there has always been a profound impediment to the provision of a whole range of services in Nimbin that are taken for granted in other towns, although the need has long existed. ‘This modern, versatile, multi-stage light industrial development is expected to change all that by offering a wide range of tailored light industrial spaces to enterprising folk by the middle of this year.’

Jonathon Spain says Nimbin has experienced considerable residential growth in recent years. Photo Tree Faerie.

Much-needed services

With stage 1A already complete and stage 1B well underway, the Nimbin Hub is being constructed to provide much-needed services, employment, and significant commercial opportunity for both existing and new light industrial businesses looking to expand or relocate to a modern facility in the Northern Rivers.

Spain says Nimbin has experienced considerable residential growth in recent years. ‘There has been an explosion of residential sub-divisions around the village itself, as well as continued population growth in the numerous valleys and hills surrounding Nimbin.

‘Way back in the early 1990s an aspiring developer named Keith Coates recognised the need for a light industrial and self-storage complex in Nimbin. Keith obtained DA consent for a staged development at 36 Sibley Street, not far past the Nimbin Servo.’

Project ground to a halt in the 90s

Spain says that despite significant on-site work being carried out the entire project ground to an immediate and unexpected halt in the early 90s when Keith’s life was brutally and unexpectedly extinguished. ‘The widely accepted mythology is that Keith was murdered, his battered body dropped out at sea by a light aircraft, only to wash up ashore at Hastings Point some days later but that is another intriguing story…

‘Notwithstanding his untimely demise, owing to Keith’s work, approval for a two-stage development has remained in place within the terms of the existing consent. All necessary development and, as regards stage 1, construction consents have endured.’

Alternative Arts and Industry Pty. Ltd, as trustee for the Alternative Arts and Industry Unit Trust, purchased the property in 2016, embarking meticulous planning, and liaison with Lismore City Council, with the intention of manifesting Keith’s vision.

Three stages

Broadly, stage 1 of the project comprises: two storage buildings, each divided into self-storage units (“stage 1A”), along with three light industrial buildings, comprising seven factory workshop units (“stage 1B”).

DA approval also exists for stage 2, which basically doubles the above, both in storage and light industrial, but will be constructed all in one go and will likely be the subject of a section 4.55 modification to the established DA approval with a view to minor repositioning of approved buildings.

Planning for stages 3A and 3B are also underway but this is a work in progress. 

In December 2022, the construction of Stage 1A was completed and an occupation certificate granted for the self-storage units. The more commercially appealing part of stage 1A also has seven, single-car garage size units (about 6m x 3m) with whirlybirds, insulation, electricity and NBN internet available. These seven, premium units are available to ABN holders and intended for the wholesale sale and display of goods.

Spain says the goal is to provide spaces that assist in transformation of enterprising ideas into fruitful pop-up businesses. ‘The Northern Rivers abounds with creative artisans and talented home industries.’

Bring on Nimbin-made skateboards

Mitch Hughes says there is a 40-foot container getting shipped to Nimbin with enough timber to make 10,000 skateboards in the first year. Photo Tree Faerie.

Mitch Hughes owns one of the businesses that will be using the facility. His is the only company in Australia that will be pressing and manufacturing boards and will be the only company offering digital heat transfer services to apply custom prints to boards. He will also, in a world first, be adding hemp to his boards. ‘The hemp will be a specialty product in the boards as well as using the sugar maple.

‘We’ve got a 40-foot container getting shipped over with enough timber to make 10,000 skateboards in the first year. We will be subbing out the center sheet then we’ll be putting a hemp composite sheet into it.’

During COVID Hughes wasn’t able to source the materials he needed for his business. He  applied to the government and was successful in getting a grant to start production making his own. He says that without the shed he wouldn’t have a business at all. ‘The government grant is to manufacture Australian-made skateboards and apparel. We wouldn’t have been able to fulfill our obligation to the government if this shed wasn’t here. We would have had to forfeit the grant.’

Hughes says one of the main reasons for the hemp insert is to stop deforestation over in America. ‘Skating has grown so fast in the world. It’s become the most profitable sport in the world and the crazy thing about that is, no one prepared for that. They were chopping down all the sugar maple trees and not planting any new ones.’

Hughes hopes to move his operation into the shed by mid-year. ‘We’re going be taking up one whole shed plus the second story.’

Spain says tenancy priority will be given to those on the waiting list. ‘Some of the Stage 1A self-storage spaces are still available but anyone wanting one of the premium units or anyone wishing to go on our waiting list for one of the larger light industrial units will need to get it quick.

For more info visit: nimbinhub.au.

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