Rehabilitated quarry offers sustainable environment through low-impact eco practices
Tucked below the N3, in the tranquil beauty of the Umhlatuzana Valley, is an eco-type business park quietly evolving into what the directors believe will be a leading facility in the country.
The Giba Business Park has grown from a small gravel pit in 1996 to an eco-sensitive business park facility. Giba Business Park chief executive Chris Harburn says from 2003, the company had built the Stockville Quarry into a successful business, selling gravel to the construction industry.
However, part of the rehabilitation process for the quarry was creating space for future developments after the gravel had been removed. It was these platforms that became the space available for renting to tenants – a collection of factories, buildings, warehouses, open platforms and storage space dotted amid 40km of mountain biking and hiking trails in the valley.
Today, the 18ha light industrial business park has 30 tenants and counting, with Harburn indicating it is creating “a sustainable work and play environment through low-impact eco practices”.
As part of their eco-sustainable approach, Harburn says Giba Business Park has developed its facilities using innovative hydraform blockmaking technology.
Hydraform block is a walling material made from soil (which is sourced from the quarry), a small amount of cement to provide stability and water. The block-making machinery can be transported to sites, so in-situ materials can be used.
Harburn says this means there is no carbon footprint created by transporting blocks from outside facilities and costly materials also do not need to be imported to the building site. The Giba Business Park directors have used the hydraform method to develop structures for an array of facilities in the park.
He says the business park is a member of the Green Building Council of SA and has been built on sustainable, green business practices. The hydraform system “ticked the right boxes” in terms of reducing the park’s carbon footprint because the blocks are made from on-site waste material.
“The park’s location has largely led to its design as a sustainable environment through low-impact eco-practices. The Stockville Quarry occupies only 14ha of the 56ha property, and it is this area that is being rehabilitated into Giba Business Park,” Harburn says.
The directors have zoned 11ha for tourism, while the balance has been zoned conservation. “The overall goal is to offer an eco-driven, sustainable business park where people from all walks of life can work and play together. The environmental management plan for the quarry is to ensure it is correctly rehabilitated,” he says.
The business park is also home to Giba Storage, a company Harburn says is growing in line with the demand for self-storage in nearby Westmead. Since the facility opened in 2011, it has expanded from 56 units to 220 and still has space to grow – and it now provides clean energy for its operations.
In 2016, the company added solar photovoltaic panels to the rooftops of several storage buildings with the 150kW peak system feeding into the business park’s electricity grid. Harburn says the goal is to add solar panels to every storage building’s roof as electricity demand in the park rises.
Giba Gorge Horse Trails owner and Giba Business Park tenant Cheri van Staden says she originally worked as a volunteer taking Horizon Farm residents horse riding before establishing a business in the park. “Anyone with a passion for nature and a heart desperate to protect this riverine environment will find their home in this park,” she says
Horse riding stables and care homes among park residents
Giba Gorge Horse Trails
The beauty of the area can be experienced in a variety of ways, including on the back of a horse. Giba Gorge Horse Trails caters for experienced and beginner riders and accommodates special needs and disabled riders.
Rides are conducted daily through the Giba Gorge and the Umhlatuzana Valley.
Boot Camp South Africa Durban
Established in 2001, Boot Camp SA is an energising brand specialising in unique outdoor events and team-based activities incorporated into an interactive military theme.
The business caters for corporate team building, school and youth group programmes and children’s birthday parties. The Durban venue is located amid the natural beauty of Giba Gorge.
Biological Control Products (BioControl)
Embodying the key principle of sustainable farming, BioControl facilitates the transition from traditional farming practices towards sustainable pest and disease control. The company provides the means for continuous pest control by reviving nature and strengthening crops to boost yields.
German company BASF is the world’s largest chemical producer and comprises subsidiaries and joint ventures in more than 80 countries. It operates six integrated production sites and 390 other production sites in Europe, Asia, Australia, the Americas and Africa.
Horizon Farm Trust
Horizon Farm is a residential home for intellectually impaired/disabled adults and was born out of a dream in 1994 by a group of parents who wanted to provide a home for their children’s lifetime care and occasional respite care. The facility caters for adults with special needs, typically relating to Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and Williams Syndrome.
Work and lifestyle balance offered
While the Giba Business Park is located 3km down a dirt road, it is within the broader Westmead/ Mahogany Ridge industrial zone. This provides potential synergistic opportunities.
The industrial park has access via the N3 national freeway from the Stockville Road exit. Businesses are within easy reach of the country’s busiest national transport route between the Durban harbour and the Gauteng economic heartland, as well as to areas along the North Coast and South Coast.
The sad fact of high unemployment levels means there is no shortage of local labour seeking opportunities to earn an income.
Work and lifestyle balance
The ethos adopted for the business park embraces a balance between work and play. There are more than 40km of trails criss-crossing the 18hae property, offering opportunities to enjoy the outdoors on foot or on mountain bikes before and after work.