Urban improvement precinct has positive impact

Increasingly, uMhlanga Rocks on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast near Durban has become the destination of choice for many home owners, says Elwyn Schenk, area principal for Pam Golding Properties.

“They revel in the relaxed lifestyle, appealing climate with 320 sunny days a year and low crime environment,” he says.

“With approximately 50 000 permanent residents, two 5-Star hotels a short walk from the town centre, and only minutes away from the largest shopping centre in Africa (Gateway Shopping Centre), uMhlanga has retained its village atmosphere, despite the fact that during the holiday season it buzzes with activity. Add to this good security and cleanliness and you have all the elements for a sought after and sustainable property market where values of residential property offer sound investment potential,” says Schenk.

He says these factors, coupled with the relocation of many corporate and banks to uMhlanga Ridge, have seen a resurgence of interest in homes, particularly as selling prices vary widely to cater for all price ranges. For example, a one bedroom apartment in the Gateway precinct can be had for R600 000, while apartments in the village of uMhlanga fetch up to R17.5 million.

Other prices, recently achieved by Pam Golding Properties in uMhlanga include freestanding homes sold for: R11 million in prime Ridge Road and R5 million for a home in St James Court respectively, and R6 million for a sectional title home in La Lucia Bay gated complex. PGP uMhlanga has also just been granted a sole mandate to market a prestigious 1387sqm home set on three stands comprising a total of 3488sqm in the upmarket Hawaan Forest Estate. Priced at R31.5 million, this Stefan Antoni designed luxury home has four bedrooms, all en suite, and exceptional finishes throughout.

Says Schenk: “Anyone meandering along the uMhlanga Promenade or through the village will not fail to be impressed not only by the physical beauty of the area, but also the feeling of cleanliness, ‘greening’, safety and security. Much of the credit for creating a world-class environment must go to the uMhlanga Urban Improvement Precinct (UIP), which was established by local property owners in conjunction with eThekwini Council. The UIP’s objectives are: securing and enhancing property values, creating an environment which supports vibrant business activity, and improving the general environment and quality of life for residents and visitors alike.”

He says this has been achieved by creating attractive and well managed public areas through the establishment of private sector/municipal partnerships which optimise municipal investment in infrastructure and services to public areas. At the same time the UIP delivers privately funded, supplementary services such as security, cleaning, greening and maintenance. A good example of this is the focus on clean streets and beaches, and the complete absence of any contact crime over the recent Christmas holidays.

“Well received by residents, the UIP has had a significant, positive impact on uMhlanga and the lifestyle of its residents – a factor which is bound to translate into enhanced property values,” says Schenk, who is also a board member of the uMhlanga Village UIP.

The existing uMhlanga UIP areas and associated managed areas cover 10km of public roads and Promenade, including over 3 000 individually rated properties, and with a total operational budget exceeding R6 million per annum.

Adds Schenk: “Some of the success stories around uMhlanga UIP include:
  • significantly reducing crime, and additional security around key events such as the annual festive season and World Cup
  • input into the municipal upgrade (currently in planning) of the uMhlanga Promenade and CBD node
  • introduction of a central emergency and security response number, supported by an interactive web-based system for reporting faults and for service delivery requests regarding public areas
  • greening and maintenance of the Promenade and village
  • motivation for the introduction of traffic circles and road calming measures
  • beach reclamation and dune replanting.

“This year (2012) will also see the upgrading of informal trading facilities. All these activities and more make this a peaceful and pleasant destination for locals and visitors alike. Wherever possible local communities are involved in new initiatives such as the uMhlanga Nature Reserve, Beach and Hawaan Forest guided walks, which provide training and employment opportunities,” he says.

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