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New Umhlanga suburb approved

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08 Jan 2008

Confirmation was received last month that KZN's eThekwini Municipality has approved the development framework plan for the new Umhlanga suburb of Ridgeside.

On completion, the 140-hectare development by Tongaat Hulett will comprise 150,000 m2 of commercial/mixed use space, 100,000 m2 of offices and 3,000 residential units which is estimated to attract R8bn to R10bn in investment to the area, is expected to generate 65,000 construction-related jobs and 16,000 permanent jobs, as well as over R50m per year in rates income. The development will be done in phases of innovatively combined commercial, residential and leisure developments.

"The approvals unlock significant opportunities to boost economic growth and job creation in the area. Umhlanga Ridgeside," says Tongaat Hulett CEO Peter Staude.

Through the framework, the municipality has ensured that the development will be fully sustainable and will not overburden existing services and infrastructure.

"The [Development Framework] plan for Ridgeside is a robust and sustainable framework that provides a basis for management of the entire site," commented Lekha Allopi, Manager of Land Use Management Systems for eThekwini Municipality. "It is a tool that ensures integration with the immediate surrounds as well as responds to the sub-regional context."

"The location presents an opportunity that very few sites in the City do. From an economic perspective the mix of land uses will provide sustainable jobs and the site enjoys good linkage to the main transport routes. The site also reinforces the mixed and multi-use urban environment, at the same time still preserving residential amenity. The provision of public transport has been another significant turning point in this development and the principle of "new urbanism" will be further endorsed by the high level of pedestrianisation of the area," she said.

Tongaat Hulett has a successful working relationship with the eThekwini Municipality and the two parties recently received the main Partnership award at the FNB KZN Top Business Portfolio Awards. The awards, which recognize organizations that ascribe to best practices and contribute to the province's socio-economic growth, acknowledged the extremely successful Riverhorse Valley Business Estate, a joint venture between Tongaat Hulett and the eThekwini Municipality.

"We have worked closely with Tongaat Hulett over the past few years and this relationship has changed the landscape of many areas within our region for the better. We look forward to the development of Umhlanga Ridgeside that will bring with it a new quality environment for everyone to enjoy," said City Manager Michael Sutcliffe.

"While sugarcane farming is an important agricultural sector, it seemed a pity that the most prized land in our city was used to grow sugarcane.
We are grateful to Tongaat Hulett for agreeing to develop this land for commercial and residential use, that can only lead to the betterment of our eThekwini region and its people."

Location and Infrastructure
The development area has prime sea views and is bounded by the M41 highway, the M4 coastal provincial road, and Umhlanga Rocks Drive. "Tongaat Hulett's comprehensive plans for infrastructure and access to Ridgeside, including road upgrades and the management of traffic and other bulk infrastructure impacts, were pivotal to the Record of Decision and subsequent rezoning," said Staude.

"There are a number of milestones that we have committed to in order to commence work on each phase of the development. The initial development will be a mixed-use area adjacent to Umhlanga Rocks Drive and a commercial office area created alongside the M41."

"The mixed-use area will encompass a 40 000m2 Zenprop Design Quarter and a 10 000m2 Mr Price concept store, as well as a number of new Hotel/Resort developments. R1.3 billion is being invested in an 80 000m2 Resort, which will cater for thousands of visitors to the region each year. This is one of three hotels planned for the development, two of which are marked as five-star facilities, which would be an excellent opportunity for the upcoming 2010 Football World Cup. The commercial office area will feature a 100 000m2 office park, which includes new regional head offices for several leading national companies."

Peter Staude concludes, "Future phases comprise primarily residential units, and once complete will create a total of approximately 3 000 residential units throughout Ridgeside, ranging in price from R250 000 all the way to R4 million.

Infrastructure Upgrades and Environmental Aspects
Tongaat Hulett Development's director, Michael Deighton, confirmed that "road upgrades will include the creation of new interchanges and access routes, as well as additional lanes, turning lanes and signalised intersections on existing roads, and these will be phased and managed so as to create a minimum of inconvenience to current road users. The first of these, scheduled for early 2008, will be an upgrade of a section of Umhlanga Rocks Drive, north of the Seaview Interchange (M41), and the construction of the new Ridgeside Drive. Water, electricity and sewerage infrastructure have similarly been planned and will be implemented, in conjunction with the Local Authority, on a phased basis".

Ridgeside's planning is closely aligned with a comprehensive environmental management programme. A 40-metre buffer zone has been set aside to protect the remaining coastal forest that borders the development area, and while there's no question that this will be a bustling urban hub, designs also feature natural open spaces, parks, walking and cycling paths.

Living in Umhlanga Ridgeside
"In line with global best practices and the 'New Urbanism' principles which underpin Umhlanga Ridgeside's design, the development will not only mix commercial and residential environments, it will also bring people together as part of a vibrant new community," explains Deighton. "Umhlanga Ridgeside will be an energy-filled, cosmopolitan hub, with broad, tree-lined boulevards, well-maintained public spaces and natural conservation areas."

A management association will be responsible for maintenance of public areas within the development, from parks to street furniture, and will also be responsible for security measures. Umhlanga Ridgeside is an open development and part of its attraction is that it is available to all, but that does not come at the expense of security, which is inherent in spatial planning. CCTV and security personnel will also monitor the entire area.

"Residential options will range from stand-alone units to four- to eight-storey apartment blocks, and from absolute luxury through to practical affordability, without compromising on quality," Deighton concluded, "Just one more arena in which Ridgeside is creating significant opportunities for growth."

For more information contact 032 439 4101 .

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