Durban's centre of gravity adjusts Northward

Posted On Wednesday, 13 February 2013 07:46 Published by Commercial Property News
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Durban continues to see a significant move North for its commercial and industrial developments. This poses the question, is this at the expense of the Durban South Basin?

Rainer Stenzhorn of In2assets sees this move as a natural consolidation process that goes in line with international trends and industrial development behaviour dictated by todays industries demand. The Durban South Basin starting from Congella toward Prospection has still many of the typical multi-storey buildings that were built to meet the once flourishing textile industry.

Most of these buildings do not serve todays industry standards and the commercial value is mostly fixed to the ground floor sections, due to vehicular access restrictions and the actual property foot print not allowing heavy vehicle traffic on the properties.

However, Investors need to take into consideration that this situation offers new opportunities for redevelopment, which seems to be an continuous trend which is proven by many new and modern commercial buildings popping up in the South of Durban. 

Some might say Umhlanga is to Durban what Sandton is to Johannesburg as it becomes a commercial pivot to the industrial exodus north of the city. Placing congestion in the South Durban industrial basin under the cons column and King Shaka International Airport under the pros column it's not difficult to see why industry is mushrooming in areas north of the city like Springfield Park, Riverhorse Valley, Briardene and Mt Edgecomb.

The significant labour pools of KwaMashu and Phoenix also add value to the mix, not to mention what kind of future the new Conubria development holds for labour. Another draw card is the proximity of the R102, N2 and the N3. Industry needs to be close to robust transportation networks. Throw in the new airport and the picture is complete.

Heading North has made sense for some time given the availability of large parcels of land. Such land is not available in the South.

South Durban is not helping itself as infrastructure is neglected, services falter and environmental quality declines. Clearly some vision is has been required with regards to urban management and wise forethought needed in future town planning.

Andrew Layman, CEO of the Durban Chamber of Commerce has been at pains to point out that the move North was not necessarily a move from South Durban. He pointed out that the type of industry moving North is that which favours the airport and is not reliant on the port.

There has been much commentary on the future of the South Durban Basin. One can't help but find the optimism about the area infectious. The advent of the new cruise terminal is expected to add greater activity to the port in particular and the area in general.

Then there's Transnet's new R75 billion dig-out port, to be built at the old Durban International Airport site. Ethekwini aims to rezone Clairwood from residential to industrial to create a back-of-port logistics hub that will complement the dig-out port. Residents fear that they will be forcibly removed, and held mass protests last year, while the city aims to pacify their fears and reassure them that this will not happen. A series of public engagements was held in 2012 and will continue intensively this year to gauge the views of affected community members who reside in and around Clairwood.

It seems clear that although there is a commercial and industrial shift North. The future plans for the South could see twin hubs developing in the city based more on function than history.

Last modified on Tuesday, 04 June 2013 10:41

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