|Artist's impression of the New Norfolk Distillery.|
In a statement issued by public relations firm FontPR on Friday, the distillery proponents also acknowledged the completion of a probity review of the Willow Court expression of interest (EOI) process, tabled at the previous night's council meeting.
"Marking the next important milestone for New Norfolk Distillery, the Derwent Valley Council has unanimously approved the distillery’s application to lease part of Willow Court, opening the door to begin works on the micro-distillery, bar and cellar door," the statement said.
"To ensure community confidence in the Willow Court EOI process, the Derwent Valley Council commissioned a probity report which was also released at the council meeting. The probity report findings confirmed a clear, transparent, legal and appropriate process was followed at all times throughout the EOI process.
“The driving force behind the New Norfolk Distillery project has been our genuine desire to see positive developments in the Derwent Valley which will attract more visitors, create jobs and showcase all the area has to offer,” New Norfolk Distillery spokesman Tarrant Derksen said.
“We would like to thank the local community for their support of this vision and we’re excited to continue working alongside them to see Willow Court become a drawcard to the Valley as well as create jobs.
“The first stage of our project, which involves establishing a micro-distillery in the Alonnah Building will employ five people when it is up and running. Now the lease has been signed we can progress to realising our full vision – which includes the restoration and revitalisation of further buildings within Willow Court to create a full distillery, bar and kitchen – with more jobs created at each stage of the project’s development.
“Once fully operational, we expect the distillery to employ around 50 people and we will give priority to local applicants wherever possible to maximise the benefit we can deliver to New Norfolk and surrounds.”
Mr Derksen said construction of the micro-distillery was set to start next month and would be carried out by the family business, Crusader Homes. “To manage increased demand for services, Crusader Homes plans to expand once construction on the distillery starts. It is expected the construction of New Norfolk Distillery by Crusader Homes will create six new jobs and three new apprenticeships throughout the staged building process.
“Once the micro-distillery has been constructed, we plan to commence cleaning and preparing the existing buildings for restoration to allow the heritage of Willow Court to shine. We are conscious of the heritage value Willow Court holds and we believe this heritage should belong to the entire community for everyone to enjoy."
Mr Derksen said the distillery had engaged Room 11 architects to develop the design for the distillery. " Room 11 are a studio with significant heritage experience and by consulting with the Heritage Council and our own advisers, they have developed a respectful design for the micro-distillery and remaining buildings."
On August 10 the distillery launched its first two products at a local preview event. "As a local family owned business, we wanted to make sure Derwent Valley residents were the very first to taste our rums as a way of thanking them for their generous support of our project so far,” Mr Derksen said.
The two products were named Near Horizon spiced rum and Misty Valley Silver Spirit.