The Eastern Cape's new R3bn agriculture estate

Construction has begun of a unique farming village incorporating residential development near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. The R3.4bn development will consist of 780 residential units and will include agricultural activities to cater for the needs of the residents.

“Our clubhouse is a milking parlour,” one of the pioneers of the concept, Chris Mulder, has said. Mulder explained the plan is to create a working town and village catering for a cross-section of the population, including first time buyers and those seeking something more upmarket.

The village will also provide for the so-called gap market which comprises prospective homeowners who earn too much to qualify for government subsidies but earn too little to obtain a bank home loan. The so-called affordable housing sector for those who earn between R250 000 and R450 000 a year will also be catered for.

The thinking is to build a traditional village but with all the modern amenities including electricity and water, refuse removal and sanitation and an optic network for communications.

Mulder says the village will provide food security for residents as a state-of-the-art milking parlour, a range of dairy products produced on the farm and organically produced fruit and vegetables will be supplied.

“An on-site education and training facility, the only one of its kind in the Eastern Cape, will offer courses in farm and dairy management to equip farmworkers with added skills,” Mulder says.

He adds profits from the farming will be divided between the village’s homeowners’ association, farm management and workers who will also get housing on the premises.

It’s been projected that once the development has been completed, it will bring with it more than 2 500 permanent jobs and more than 11 000 temporary job opportunities at various skills levels during the eight to ten years it will take to build all the houses and facilities.

The farm is at Crossways near the Van Stadens River Gorge and is about 25 minutes’ drive from PE. The project has been approved by the Eastern Cape’s department of economic affairs, environment and tourism.

Mulder says most of the houses will be largely self-sustaining in that they can be fitted with photovoltaic panels which convert sunlight into electricity. Rainwater will be harvested and stored in on-site reservoirs while solar water heating will be compulsory.

He says one of the houses under construction will operate completely independently of Eskom’s national grid as it has been designed to supply all its own energy and water needs and will convert organic waste to cooking gas.

What is also unique to this village is that it will have its own municipality controlled by the homeowners’ association. Mulder says: “It will provide all the services of a municipality. It will maintain infrastructure, roads and public spaces, operate an extensive security and surveillance system and see to refuse removal. And as it is directly responsible to homeowners, the quality of service and speed of response are expected to be vastly superior to the current average experience.”

Mulder maintains it will offer convenience shopping, extensive sports facilities, crèches and a modern clinic.

The installation of most of the bulk services has been completed for the first phase of the project.


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