Engineering a new urban footprint
Durban is one of the fastest-growing urban areas in South Africa. Among a string of accolades, it has been voted as the best city to live in for three consecutive years in the International Mercer Quality of Living Survey, in addition to placing first in Africa in the 2016 Knight Frank International Residential City Index for Residential Investment Performance, and one of the top 50 cities globally. Over the last two decades, Durban has experienced unprecedented growth.
The relocation of King Shaka International Airport and a series of property development initiatives north of the CBD have created a momentum that is driving the development of the North Coast, one of KwaZulu-Natal’s primary growth corridors.
The success of uMhlanga Ridge, which has attracted major local and international investment into the area, has acted as a pivotal catalyst. Michael Deighton, managing director of Tongaat Hulett Developments, attributes the demand for residential infill as one of the drivers that led to the development of the area, and in turn, contributed toward fuelling commercial development. He says that there is an urgent and growing trend for mixed-used, mixed-income precinct development, “and uMhlanga Ridge is an example of responding to the need for integrated urban transformation”.
In the 65km stretch between uMhlanga Rocks and the Thukela River, Tongaat Hulett is facilitating, on the back of existing provincial and municipal spatial plans and strategic initiatives, the transformation of urban spaces towards a new, integrated and community-centred urban footprint. Examples of such developments currently underway include Bridge City and Cornubia, both of which can be considered as catalytic in their own right.
There, new benchmarks are being set for mixed-use, mixed-income hubs that take an inclusionary approach to commercial and residential development. This is due to the influx of people into urban nodes according to Deighton, who says: “There is a rising demand for affordable housing, catering to people with a joint monthly household income of between R5 000 and R24 000. An expanding infrastructure is connecting people more efficiently and both Cornubia and Bridge City will offer affordable housing opportunities, creating sustainability among communities.”
Deighton’s sentiment is positive. “Demand for development in the region is evident; in the 1 042 hectare Sibaya Coastal Precinct the market response has been exceptional. Primarily residential, the precinct is creating an important link northwards between the city and the emerging aerotropolis region around Dube TradePort and King Shaka International Airport.”
Demand for retirement solutions is also extremely high and the North Coast offers many opportunities for growth in this sector. As champions of Retire KZN, an online campaign, Tongaat Hulett is working to identify and activate opportunities to support retirement demands.
Attributing the desirability of the area to a number of reasons, not least of which is location, Deighton says: “Our close link to Johannesburg, extensive fibre-optic and telecommunications networks, vast rail and road infrastructure and the Go Durban! Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network being rolled out across the metropolis make Durban a Smart City. Economic growth and development is healthy and the unbeatable lifestyle on offer here makes Durban an attractive investment option.”
About Tongaat Hulett
Tongaat Hulett is an agriculture and agri-processing business, focusing on the complementary feedstocks of sugarcane and maize. Its on-going activities in agriculture have resulted in the company having a substantial land portfolio within the primary growth corridors of KwaZulu-Natal, with strong policy support for conversion. A core element of Tongaat Hulett’s strategic vision is to maximise the value generated from the conversion of land in its portfolio by responding to key demand drivers and identifying its optimal end use for all stakeholders.