Townsville Brewery has successfully lobbied to have conditions placed on a Malt Shovel microbrewery project in the regional Queensland city.
In 2018, the Lion-owned subsidiary proposed a new microbrewery and taproom on 11 Anthony Street in South Townsville under a new brand – Tiny Mountain – named for the city’s pink granite landmark, Castle Hill.
Founder of Townsville Brewery, Carey Ramm, said that their main concerns were regarding the scale of the project as well as zoning issues. He appealed to the Planning and Environmental Court back in January after Townsville City Council rejected initial concerns about the site.
It would only be the second brewery in the town of just under 180,000 people, and, unlike many other breweries, it would be located in a residential rather than appropriate industrial zone.
“We objected on a range of issues as we were concerned about the scale of the project and its proximity to neighbouring hotels and apartments,” Ramm told Brews News.
“We believed that in its original form it would have created substantial issues that had the potential to then impact us through increased regulation. If the project was being built in an Industrial Zone we would not have objected.”
Lion have now agreed to a series of conditions on the microbrewery, including that production will be capped at 220,000-litres a year, with annual reporting to Townsville City Council to verify this.
They have also agreed to not engage in canning or bottling packaging operations onsite, and that only products brewed on site could be distributed on site.
While the original plans from Lion stipulated tat the brewery would make 200,000 litres a year, Townsville Brewery objected to the actual plans which they said could potentially see the brewery produce far more.
Townsville Brewery said that the planned site actually had the potential to produce more than 1 million litres annually without shift work, and 2.2 million litres with shift work. They argued that this would push the development into the threshold for a high impact industry.
There were additional objections raised over the availability of car parking and the primary function of the site, with Townsville pointing out that the development applications inferred that the site was primarily a manufacturing space.
They said the brewpub is only open from Thursday to Sunday, unlike other businesses in the area, had a small patron capacity and did not have a kitchen to enable it to serve food.
“In summary there is no shortage of appropriate industrial zoned sites and buildings in Townsville where this Proposed Development can operate,” a statement from Ramm to the council said.
“The Development Application clearly shows that the major purpose of the project is drink manufacturing and it should only be allowed in an appropriately zoned industrial estate.”
In the end Lion agreed to the 220,000-litre cap, which is intended to ensure it maintains its ‘micro’ manufacturing output “to protect the amenity of the surrounding residential uses”.
Carey Ramm said that while they hoped for a good outcome, they were prepared to go further.
“We had a mediation with Lion and entered that with the hope a solution could be reached. Had we been unable to reach a satisfactory outcome we had all our experts prepared and ready to proceed to trial in the Queensland Planning and Environment Court.
“In the end we had a friendly meeting with Lion and an amicable outcome was reached.”
Tiny Mountain in Townsville
Lion initially applied for the development permit in early 2018 to transform the former warehouse site, which is sandwiched between two hotels, into a brewery and taproom.
Their application stated that it intended to ‘create a brewery for the region with a good beer led experience centred in the brewery that opens North Queenslanders up to flavoursome beer’.
In the initial planning application, Lion proposed a 20hL brewhouse, able to produce up to 200,000 litres of beer a year. It also made provisions for a canning line to be added in the future. It intended the site to have a capacity of 150 people, and plans included an outdoor beer garden on Palmer Street.
At the time, it said the proposed development would be “essential to advancing the tourism and hospitality industry in Townsville” as well as diversifying industry and creating job and upskill opportunities.
The Anthony Street site is in a high density residential zone according to the planning documents, rather than in an industrial zone as many breweries are.
Construction on the site began in May 2019, and a press release from Lion said that it would create 10 full time jobs for Townsville.
“Our goal with this development is to increase the number of tourists and locals alike who visit Palmer Street and the CBD, and in doing so support all hospitality offerings in the area,” said Chris Sheehan, one of Malt Shovel’s head brewers, in the release.
Now that the negotiations are complete, the Tiny Mountain Brewery is set to launch in time for Christmas, and will add to the city’s growing craft beer scene.
“Townsville already has a vibrant craft scene with many bars and tap houses supporting domestic and international craft beers,” said Ramm.
“Townsville is only a city of 160,000 persons and no doubt Tiny Mountain and Townsville Brewing Company will compete head to head for the tastebuds of the craft consumer.”