Durban Council under pressure to release building land

eThekweni’s municipal authorities are being warned that if they want significant industrial growth and development in the Greater Durban area they must become more proactive in unlocking some of the region’s vast tracts of land.

And, urges Maxprop managing director, Russell Scorer, it needs to be offered to the market at affordable prices. Their failure to do so, he says, in a locally issued media release, has the potential to have a negative impact on the region for years to come.

The bulk of the land is in the high wealth belt north of the city and in the Umhlanga and Umhloti districts on the province’s north coast. .

Scorer, a recognised expert on local commercial and industrial property and who is not short on admiration of the financial management of the city, says it is outrageous that would-be developers are being forced to focus on Cato Ridge some 40km from the city centre to find land for industrial development.

When the new King Chaka Airport opened residential building land would be needed for blue collar workers in that area. Some thought had been given this future need by land being released opposite the Mt. Edgecombe Estate, but it was doubtful if this was enough.

Focusing on downtown Durban, Scorer complimented the council on its regeneration of the city and the fact that the exodus of major players had led to small businesses and professional people taking up rental stock. Such space with its abundance of on-site parking was more affordable than the fashionable areas. However these welcome gains were being overshadowed by safety and security in the CBD becoming a serious problem, which the city would have to work hard at addressing.

Scorer said the announcement of a new sports stadium for Durban with the 2010 soccer World Cup in mind, the planned upgrading of facilities at Durban harbour, and positive news on the start of the long-awaited construction of the new airport at La Mercy were all exciting developments. Such structures meant it was well placed to become the country’s city of the future.

Some commercial and industrial land was still available for development in Waterfall and Cato Ridge in the western corridor as well as residential land in burgeoning Hillcrest. Other opportunities still existed to the north around Umhlanga but prices were still high.

In the established Durban industrial nodes, developers had resorted to buying properties and then demolishing the buildings to rebuild according to their own specifications.
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