Once exclusively the domain of mechanics and construction supply companies, recent years has seen Brookvale transform from an industrial business district into a thriving cultural hub.

First it was the breweries such as 4 Pines and Nomads, along with a few brave restaurants. They attracted weekend crowds and saw Brookvale become a serious option as a destination.

Despite being tucked away in the back of Brookvale’s industrial district, their offering was solid and business boomed. They were quickly followed by others, including the more recent arrival of Manly Spirits Co, Barrell One Coffee Roasters, and the Brookvale Arts District (BAD) – an initiative that creates awareness around businesses, opportunities and activities in Brookvale.

2017 and 2022 Brookvale Structure Plan

In 2017, Warringah Council released the Brookvale Structure Plan, laying bare their intentions to transform the suburb into a desirable destination with mixed-use development including offices, retail, services and housing.

With manufacturing-related employment expected to decline, the Council announced it would rezone Brookvale’s industrial areas to allow for additional permitted uses and drive local jobs growth and a “net increase in employment floor space”.

For the past five years council has been analysing community feedback on the initial plan, and conducting employment and transport studies, to feed a revised 2022 Brookvale Structure Plan, scheduled for release this year.

As is often the case, the foundations of the original 2017 Brookvale Structure Plan are likely to remain, which will see a decline in exclusively industrial zoning, an increase in mixed use and commercial zoning, and an extension of the town centre with minimum levels of retail and commercial floor space. Maximum building heights are also set to increase – to 21m in the in the Town Centre straddling Pittwater Road, and 15m in the Transition Area, according to the 2017 plan.

Retail, while included to some extent in the Brookvale Structure Plan, will likely not be a primary focus, with Warringah Mall seen and supported as the major retail centre for the Northern Beaches. No changes have been proposed to Brookvale Oval or the adjoining park to the north.

Early Adopters and Where The Growth Will Be

To date, much of Brookvale’s art and cultural growth is in the gritty and grungy industrial district on the eastern side of Pittwater Road. However, with a large part of the Brookvale Structure Plan focused on activating the Town Centre, the future will also see increased demand for property on Pittwater Road.

For now, though, demand for property on Pittwater Road is coming from tenants who are unable to secure property in the industrial district due to zoning restrictions.

One such early adopter is Manly-based pizza icon, Pocket Pizza, who have a reputation for epic pizza, embracing low-fi, and drawing big crowds to non-traditional destinations, such as at their Manly restaurant on Pittwater Road.

Dylan Eisenhut, one of the Pocket Pizza founders, opened their Brookvale restaurant in March 2022 and said the suburb was the only location they considered for a second store.

“We only really had eyes for Brookvale. It is an emerging destination with breweries and speciality coffee and getting on board with that movement was a great opportunity”, he said.

“It was also a geographical decision. It was far enough away to expand our client base without consuming too much of our existing market, but close enough to take pressure of the Manly restaurant,” he added.

It was not all smooth sailing though. They worked for five months trying to secure a 140sqm site in Brookvale’s industrial district on the eastern side of Pittwater Road, however the restricted zoning there saw them settle on a 30-seat restaurant with a separate takeaway section on Pittwater Road.

“It is going great. We are expanding our client base and building a name in Brookvale where there will be big population growth,” Dylan said, adding that he is keeping an eye on the Brookvale Structure Plan to continue with Pocket Pizza’s business plan.

“Our long-term vision for Brookvale is to establish a large manufacturing kitchen that is both a restaurant for locals and able to service multiple smaller sites.”