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Bond students explore brewing cultural shift in Gold Coast industrial estates

by Jessica Borten

Bond University students are mapping the hipster-fication of Gold Coast industrial areas where workshops and warehouses are being taken over by craft breweries, cool cafes and artisanal coffee roasters.

The work, being carried out for the Gold Coast City Council, could lead to planning changes that protect and nurture a growing cultural trend embraced by locals and tourists.

Leading the change is the Miami-Burleigh industrial area which now includes the Black Hops and Precinct breweries, Granddad Jack’s Craft Distillery, Paddock Bakery and pop-up burger joints.

Ned Wales, a Senior Teaching Fellow of Sustainable Environments and Planning at Bond University, said the council was getting valuable insights from the fresh survey.

“They’re finding that the industrial areas are far more nuanced than what they thought originally and are also heavily influenced by the immediate culture of those neighbourhoods,” Mr Wales said.

“If you drove through the northern part of the Gold Coast, it tends to be more industries around construction and associated businesses whereas the industrial area in Burleigh is morphing into boutique breweries and coffee roasting - the hipster movement.

“So rather than having a blanket land-use approach for all the industrial areas, they’re exploring how they might modify land uses to better support economic prosperity for each area.”

Mr Wales said Griffith University and the Queensland University of Technology were also involved in the project.

“Bond has been asked to do the initial data collection which has involved driving through all of the industrial precincts and recording, street by street, each business activity and then matching it against the dataset that the Gold Coast City Council has,” he said.

“Then, out of all of that, they’re going to analyse these different precincts and identify three that they want to drill down into more detail.

“It’s called rational planning where they make planning decisions based on the data collected. And then that data is interpreted and analysed to make better decisions about the urban environment.”

Mr Wales said the work was a practical learning experience for students to better prepare them for the workplace.

“I’m hoping they will gain a better understanding and make a deeper connection between the built environment and economic activity,” he said.

“I think having a funded research project on your resume is beneficial in terms of showing that you understand how data is collected, analysed and how it might be applied.

“It’s great to see young students and graduates out in the industry.”

Bachelor of Property student Gabriel Jones and recent Bachelor of Sustainable Environments and Planning graduate Karen Vigoya are working as research assistants on the project.

Mr Jones said he was hoping to gain experience in data collection and develop an understanding of how the industrial areas on the Gold Coast were evolving.

“I just finished stage one of the task, which was driving around 10 industrial areas on the coast to collect data on the businesses and the type of activity they were conducting,” he said.

“As we move onto stage two, I will be conducting interviews and surveys to see how these businesses are adapting to change especially post COVID-19.

“I am hoping (this experience) will provide a good base for when I start work after graduating next year by knowing more about how the industrial property sector is changing.” 

Ms Vigoya said she would use the practical experience as a springboard for further studies.

“I have been thinking about studying a Master's Degree and a PhD in the future, so this experience will greatly help further my studies.”

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