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Fair days over for golf estates

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Buyers are turning away from resource-guzzling developments and towards those with environment-friendly lifestyles and sport and recreation facilities

Golf estates in their current forms are “on their way out” in South Africa as local trends follow international movements away from these resource-guzzling developments in favour of more environmentally-friendly estate living. 

In the near future security will also no longer be the only demand from estate residents, who are already expecting more from their exclusive estate lifestyles. 

Trails and tracks for cycling, jogging and walking, as well as convenience outlets, crèches and gyms are already offerings new estates factor into their development plans. 

However, the biggest shift in estate trends is away from traditional golfing estates, developers and property experts say. The 2016 World Green Building Trends identified South Africa as a growth engine in green building, with the highest percentage of green building projects currently under way. Pam Golding Property Group chief executive Dr Andrew Golding says the green building concept has been concentrated in the commercial property sector, but it is now transitioning into the residential market. 

“In the US, golf estates are losing appeal. In contrast the new trend is agri-hoods, or housing estates with residences built around community farms. In South Africa, New World Wealth notes a move away from golf estates and a rise in demand for retirement and eco-estates. 

“We anticipate that over the next decade we will see a steady increase in demand for properties which protect and promote our natural environment, incorporate green features, reduce operating costs and secure the provision of water and electricity supplies.” 

This demand, Golding says, will drive price premiums for properties that cater to these needs. 

La Como Lifestyle Estate in Joburg’s East Rand combines nature, recreation, security and entertainment. Picture: Dimension Property Group

“While secure estates with golf courses remain popular, there is a shift towards estates offering additional amenities and facilities such as cycling and jogging tracks, play areas, equestrian facilities, outdoor gyms and even crèches and schools, which make them more inclusive of the entire family’s needs.” Rabie Property Group director John Chapman says golf estates are becoming less popular, along with the sport itself. 

“It is expensive and time-consuming and has lost ground to mountain biking, cycling, trail walking and running. With climate changes effecting rainfall patterns, maintaining golf courses is going to become harder and more expensive.” 

Chapman says there is “little doubt” estates of the future will seek to become more self-sufficient in terms of energy and water resources. 

“With changing climate trends affecting rainfall patterns and the failure of the State to deliver a reliable energy resource, estates will need to get off the grid with the help of boreholes, recycled water and alternative energy sources such as turbine and/or solar.” 

In addition, technology is playing an increasingly important role in life and estates will need to keep abreast of these changes. For example, in 20 years’ time it is likely driverless electric cars will be the order of the day, and Chapman says estates of the future will need to include, among other things, battery charging facilities. 

Rabie’s research also reveals that having schools, crèches, convenience retailing and gyms are attractions. However, they do not have to be within estates, just in close proximity. 

“Within the estate itself, the most important requirement is security. The basic minimum requirements are pocket parks, jogging/walking trails, and fibre-to-the-home. A clubhouse with meeting or function venues, a boutique gym and braai and pool facilities are added attractions to purchasers,” Chapman says. 

Some estate residents even seek facilities in which to pray, says Andrew Thompson, development and sales director at eLan Property Group. This is in addition to facilities that encompass the live, work, study and play lifestyle. 

“People are looking for that sense of community that extends outside their immediate family.” 

Although trying to fulfil a “shopping list” of specialised features is not always possible, Thompson says some developers try to solve the issue by creating distinctive developments on the estate for equestrian, golf and beach-centred lifestyles. 

Residents are “buying in” to the particular way of life each development offers and choosing them based on their offerings, for example, whether they want to keep horses or live in lock-up-and-go apartments. 

Buyers are looking for crèches and even schools within estates, or at least close by. Picture: Pixabay

Play areas, jogging and cycling tracks are definitely on estate residents’ list of priorities says Byron Caloyannis, project director at Dimension Property Group. There is also a demand for a nature and security offering, he says. 

“People are looking for a sense of freedom which includes a holistic offering of nature, security and lifestyle. People are also looking for eco-friendly features plus up-to-date communication, such as fibre-to-thehome, and security systems. 

“Golf estates are not as attractive as they were 10 years ago. People are looking for lifestyle and security. Levies in golf estates are high as the running costs and upkeep of a golf course is not cheap.” 

What has not changed is the main principle estates on which are built, which is a combination of security design and lifestyle. “What has evolved is security technology and architectural styles,” Caloyannis says. 

But it is not just facilities that buyers want – it is the whole lifestyle and how they interface with those facilities that is evolving, Thompson says. Security, peace of mind and convenience are the most desirable. 

He says technology needs to be integrated into daily living in estates. “The days of thirsty golf courses sourcing their water off the estate are over,” Thompson says. 

“Golf courses are a convenient way of creating functional green spaces but they’re resource-intense to maintain so you have to take that into account in the planning.” 

Self-sufficient golf courses could be the answer. Although eLan, and the country, has not ventured into agri-foods territory yet, Thompson says there is a definite move to green living. 

“A move further on the environmentally-friendly spectrum is where communities aim to have a positive, rather than neutral impact on the environment. This starts with the planning, around reducing use of water and energy and alternative sources.” 

Waste management and alternate water and energy sources – which give rise to off-the-grid living – are integral aspects, Thompson says.

Inclusionary is the future in SA 

Because affluent enclave living, surrounded by poverty, is not a sustainable way of life, eLan’s Andrew Thompson says the plan for Blythedale Coastal
Estate on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast is to incorporate inclusionary housing. 

“A blueprint for future developments, Blythedale Hills will comprise of more than 1 000 units, set aside as an inclusionary affordable housing component and built along the
same architectural guidelines as the rest of the estate. 

“For residents’ and the community’s mutual benefit, we’ve integrated a commercial area on the estate. Add to that the hotel resort complex and there’s opportunity for the community to sell their goods on the estate,” he says.

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