Ballito: watch out infrastructure, Umhlanga

Posted On Thursday, 05 July 2012 09:02 Published by
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So you thought Ballito was just a holiday town in a quaint sugar cane-growing patch on the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. Think again.

Ballito remains an ideal holiday destination with fine weather and beautiful vistas but it also has a growing business district, excellent private schools and several top class shopping centres, cinemas, hospitals and hotels.  And with this growth comes a burgeoning infrastructure crisis as Ballito Bay 'bursts at the seams'

Macro level infrastructure is having a big impact. The King Shaka International Airport combined with the Gautrain in Johannesburg means a greater number of Jo’burgers are taking advantage of the ease with which they can commute. Real Estate agents report the increased numbers of people moving to Ballito from Johannesburg looking for a better quality of life and lower crime levels.

Ballito has also become a residential destination for Durbanites and others from KwaZulu Natal as jobs increase along the North coast. Big developments like Bridgecity, Dube Port and the giant Conurbia development are attracting permanent residents to the North coast areas. These are not once off events. Rather they have inertia of their own as they attract further development and support business. Many are looking to Umhlanga and Ballito to reside as the retail and commercial sectors grow.

For some time upmarket Zimbali and Simbithi have attracted the sales at the higher end of the market but other gated communities are growing and entry level prices are ranging from R780 000 to R1million. The latest joint venture from IFA Hotels & Resorts and Tongaat Hulett Developments, Zimbali Lakes Resort, represents the second major phase in the development of Greater Zimbali, which will further the development lifespan of the area by at least another 15 years and contribute an additional R4 billion of direct investment into the North Coast, with an estimated job creation potential of 3 700 jobs. Bridge City is a groundbreaking new city centre that literally bridges Inanda, Ntuzuma, Phoenix and KwaMashu, and includes the new 40 000 square metre Bridge City shopping centre and various municipal and private facilities. The development is set to provide access to transport and amenities for over 800 000 people.

Ballito’s light-industrial growth shows the potential of a future city. Last year saw the launch of Ballito Services Park North which brings on line 9 light industrial zoned serviced platforms totalling 18.5 hectares offering multi-use options from warehousing and factories to show-rooms, offices and mini units. With a scarcity of zoned and serviced land for sale north of Durban and around King Shaka Airport, this opportunity is very attractive.

From a capital growth perspective, property values in the area are reportedly not heavily influenced by the recession and vacant land prices have continued to grow in value. Given that there are only around 110 serviced sites available between Ballito Business Park, Ballito Services Park and Imbonini, northern business land will soon be difficult to acquire.

On the office front, being a newly measured node incorporating many new developments, the Q1 2012 SAPOA office vacancy survey rate stood at 26% and is likely to remain high as the survey settles.

There is debate about infrastructure in Ballito; much has been made of the well-kept and designed roads, however holiday makers in December last year expressed a great deal of frustration with traffic and water resources. Those who saw the lines of holiday makers queuing up for water to flush their loos last December may have written off Ballito as another South African town that can’t get its act together. Crime and grime are said to be at a minimum.

Ballito’s biggest shopping centre, Ballito Lifestyle Centre’s Bruce Rencken said to local newspaper North Coast Courier during the water crisis: “Although the water crisis was unexpected and disruptive to our operations during our peak trading period, we were able to continue trading and brought in water tankers and chemical toilets. Fortunately the customer shopping experience was not significantly affected and customers were generally very understanding. Nevertheless, there certainly was a negative impact on trade and the ‘holiday experience’ of our visitors. Hopefully this has again highlighted to the authorities the importance of and urgency with which all infrastructure upgrades are effected and implemented as this is fundamental to sustainable and responsible development in Ballito.”

Many unexplained and unaccounted for power outages occurred during the December/January period. Umgeni Water warned in October last year that massive industrial and residential development north of Durban was putting pressure on the provision of water. At the time of the crisis the utility said it had plans to upgrade the infrastructure in 2012.

Mayor Sibusiso Mdabe has gone on record as saying R2.2 billion would be needed to upgrade the water supply to Ballito, a disclosure that has made residents hot under the collar at the prospect of a rates hike to fund the infrastructure.

In the past, 15% of a developments cost would go towards upgrading the infrastructure of the area, thus creating a sustainable system of development. This is how the ‘old’ Ballito was built. Some locals are of the opinion that irregularities began when this levy was dropped, thus allowing a huge amount of housing to be built without the required infrastructure. This has slowly compounded to cause the water shortages being faced today.

iLembe district municipal manager Mike Newton said to the press that “The team from Umgeni Water is busy constructing an additional supply pipe to the major supply reservoir to deal with additional demands of this nature, as well as upgrading the pumping stations from Hazelmere Dam to supply the additional requirement.”

Umgeni Water has assured residents that the infrastructure required to improve supply to the Avondale Reservoir would be in place before December 2012. So watch this space.

There’s no doubt that if Ballito can overcome its infrastructure hurdles its boom is expected to continue both commercially and residentially. Watch out Umhlanga.

Last modified on Thursday, 05 July 2012 12:16

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