Tuesday, October 16

Businesses eye residential space

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Rents are cheaper in suburbs, but zoning problems arise

An increasing number of businesses is opening doors in residential areas as owners look for cheaper rents in suburbs close to popular commercial hubs.

Offices and retail outlets, in particular, are suited to such locations.

“The ideal residential location for a business is near a commercial hub such as Morningside and Berea,” says Denis Davidson from Chas Everitt’s commercial division in Umhlanga.

“Businesses operating from areas like this have good exposure and yard space for parking. The main problem would be the zoning.”

Davidson says residential areas have to be zoned for commercial or businesses need to be granted special consent.

“In my area, the only residential area to allow this is Durban North and there is big demand here. However, only offices are allowed to operate here, not retail. The Morningside area is also seeing more houses being converted into offices and shops.”


Moving to the suburbs has pros and cons

Understanding zoning regulations is key, says Arinda Truter, attorney at Schoeman Law. If business owners don’t understand the regulations, their businesses could be shut down before they open.

“Or worse, shut down when already in business.

“Many people run businesses quietly and successfully from their homes with no fear of overstepping the by-laws of their relevant councils.

“However, while your business might cause little or no disturbance, there are businesses that can be disruptive and a nuisance to other residents.”

These factors always need to be taken into account when starting your business, Truter says.

Houses like these in areas like Durban North make for excellent commercial properties. Picture: Chas Everitt Commercial UMhlanga

In addition to zoning issues, certain businesses are also “not suited” to a residential environment, says Leon Breytenbach, national manager Rawson Property Group commercial division.

“Manufacturing companies, for instance, tend to make a lot of noise with loud machinery and operations and that’s a problem for neighbours.

“A stream of massive trucks navigating small residential roads would also be an issue, as would housing dangerous chemicals or requiring large warehousing or storage space.”

The pros and cons of setting up a business in a residential area are subjective, Breytenbach says.

“These depend entirely on the nature of your enterprise and its operational and physical requirements. By assessing these in conjunction with the most common benefits and pitfalls of residential business premises, you should get a good idea of whether it’s the right choice.”


Breytenbach says pros include:

● Value for money, as renting a business-zoned property in a residential neighbourhood will cost less than equivalent space in a purely commercial area;
● A tranquil work environment, which plays a “huge role” in productivity and company morale; and
● A relatable business image, as working in a residential neighbourhood tends to create a more down-to-earth and personal company image.
Breytenbach says the cons include:
● Parking, as inadequate facilities are a daily reality of working in a residential area;
● Security, as most commercial properties do come with some form of on-site security while residential properties do not, and some neighbourhoods require more security than others; and
● Visibility and ease of access, as residential areas do have signage restrictions which could make finding your premises more difficult for your customers.

Independent on Saturday Property

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