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Pinetown: View to a thrill

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Named after former governor of Natal Sir Benjamin Pine, the area has good transport links and is a hub for the motor industry

Driving along Josiah Gumede (Old Main) Road in Pinetown between Cowies Hill and Kloof, there is an ironic nostalgia in the concentration of motor dealerships, car parts specialists and auxiliary services for the vehicle industry found on its route. This is among the myriad stretches of road between Durban and Pietermaritzburg named Old Main Road (with the suburb following the name for clarity) as it was the transport route traversed between the province’s commercial hub and the capital.

The old main road linking the two cities is today honoured annually in the Comrades Marathon run in remembrance of the soldiers who fell during World War I.

Situated 16km west of the traditional Durban central business district, Pinetown has its historical roots in the city’s early days. Named after the governor of Natal, Sir Benjamin Pine, Pinetown was established in 1850 around the Wayside Hotel, and the foundations and structures of the original settlement can be found at the corner of Josiah Gumede Road and Stapleton Road.

This is a busy commercial street interspersed with blocks of flats, government schools and social services including churches, a range of hotels, Pinetown Medicross and government buildings like the Department of Home Affairs, library, police station and municipal facilities.

Pinetown is a mix of industry, business and residential

Alongside the motor town element, other commercial enterprises include several strip mall shopping centres and hardware or do-it-yourself stores serving Pinetown residents and those in the nearby strongly residential suburbs of Cowies Hill, Westville and Kloof. Larger shopping centres are found a few blocks away from the main arterial road.

Josiah Gumede Road plays a key role in the eThekwini Municipality’s integrated rapid transport system, Go!Durban. The multi-billion-rand initiative aims at converting Durban into “Africa’s most liveable, sustainable city by 2030” and involves modern transportation, professional city planners and several other highly skilled work streams collaborating to ensure the project’s efficiency and effectiveness.

The project has four main phases that develop corridors, a term used for a main road or rail connecting two main suburbs. The bus or road corridors will include feeder routes taking people between the main road and suburb stations and direct lines transporting people from the stations to residential and business areas.

The signage of Sandy’s Centre on the Cowies Hill end of Josiah Gumede Road is cheerful. Picture: Terry Haywood Photography

Following swiftly behind the virtual completion of the Pinetown Go!Durban upgrades, the municipality has now called on residents and business owners to assist in developing the land around the bus stations.

During last year’s public meeting, municipality architect Nic Combrink said the concluded network includes development along the nine citywide transport corridors with Pinetown being the first area in which the infrastructure was complete. The next step was developing the surrounding land, specifically landscaping and greening.

However, the same public meeting also recognised the crime and grime affecting the area with Pinetown business owners, many of them along Josiah Gumede Road, seeking to establish an urban improvement precinct (UIP) to solve the problem and boost property values.

The initiative requires a 51% acceptance rate among commercial property owners with the additional capital raised to be invested into resolving issues including safety and security, lighting and general neighbourhood appearance. The long-term goal involves boosting the property values by improving the neighbourhood, which has the ripple effect of attracting more customers and business and boosting rentals.

Pinetown: Businesses line Josiah Gumede Road

“There is recognition that the Pinetown CBD requires urgent intervention. The area is home to a diverse economy, a place where people live, work, educate their children and attend church, but it is in trouble and that decline needs to be fixed,” eThekwini Municipality head of planning, Soobs Moonsamy, said at the time.

A mechanism accommodated within the Municipal Property Rates Act, UIPs allow for special rating areas to be established where the owners agree to contribute an additional amount towards the monthly rates for top-up services alongside those provided by the municipality.

There are various investment opportunities along the road involving business premises for sale and rent.

This week Wakefields brought to the market a motor facility offering investors a 1 200m² showroom, 776m² basement workshop and another 100m² basement workshop mezzanine floor (total space 2 076m²) for R21 million. Currently zoned as special zone 21, the primary usage allows for a display area, health studio, motor display area, motor vehicle testing centre, motor workshop, restaurant, fast-food outlet or shop and retail showroom.

Index Property Solutions has listed a 160m² space for rent in a secure office park next door to Sandy’s Centre. Walled off to create a quiet working environment and courtyard, the monthly rental is R110/m².

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