Estate living as a lifestyle choice

Estate living is said to boost homeowners’ health, community spirit and peace of mind. Thomas Duane Hodgson asked Carel Venter of the Mossel Bay Municipality why…

An exciting challenge is what awaits the new homeowner when moving into a well-run estate. Buying new appliances and decorating the new abode will soon make it feel like home. For an existing homeowner in a well-managed estate, there is an idyllic feeling of living separate but yet being part of a strong community.

The estate lifestyle is indeed attractive, particularly within the current South African socio-economic climate. A holiday home can be seen as perfectly placed in an estate, with the security providing much-needed peace of mind when away. The same can be said for an overseas investor, where return on investment is almost always guaranteed.

Trends in estate living

There are few places in South Africa that can compare to the Garden Route in terms of providing estate residents with a safe, relaxed atmosphere combined with beautiful scenery. This also makes the area very appealing for families whose bread winner is working up country, elsewhere in Africa or even abroad.

There is no doubt that an estate can provide the ideal platform for raising a family. That is, providing outdoor activities for the whole family, and enabling children to enjoy their upbringing within a healthy nature-aware environment.

Healthy living has also become a priority for many and there is a growing awareness of the impact that lifestyle has on personal health, as well as the environment. We may just start seeing carbon footprint reduction feature as a priority for estates, perhaps even a focus for estate community projects!

The benefits of estate living

In order to glean relevant as well as locally applicable information, Mr Carel Venter of the Mossel Bay Municipality was interviewed on the benefits of estate living, particularly in the Mossel Bay area.

Thomas Duane Hodgson (TDH): Let’s begin with a brief description of your employ.

Carel Venter (CV): I am the Director of Planning and Integrated Services for Mossel Bay Municipality (Professional Town and Regional Planner).

TDH: What are some of the reasons that estate living has become so popular?

CV: The main contributor is security. Although Mossel Bay is a fairly safe place to live, compared to other parts of South Africa, it is a reality that our communities do suffer from crime. Staying in an estate therefore does provide additional security compared to the conventional suburb. Access control as well as security gates, together with high fences around the estate and daily security patrols inside, are all part of estate. These are must-have (features) for some investors.

In some instances, estates promote and are designed in such a way that they respond well to the ecological environment. By implication, it means that an estate provides an improved green living environment and feeling compared to the conventional residential areas in town. Also, some estates have special environmental programmes going, reaching beyond their own fences, which again gives an investor and residents a level of satisfaction that they contribute to a more sustainable environment.

Recreational and sport activities that are offered in estates (golf courses, walking trails, tennis courts, cycling routes etc.) are within easy access to those staying in the estate. Such activities take place in a more secure environment. Some estates also offer educational facilities. Although Mossel Bay Municipality is one of the top (municipalities) in the country, when it comes to providing services, some estates prefer providing their own bulk services to residents. By doing that, the estates would also provide additional security in terms of service delivery.

TDH: What would the benefits of estates be for town planning?

CV: The benefit for town planning is mainly with land use management control. That is, the total estate functions within the development parameters set by the Municipal Council at the time of establishment. This would then mean that there would be an effective and functional homeowners’ association (HOA), with very few individual land use control matters dealt with by the Municipality. The estate’s rules and building guidelines therefore play an important role and experience has shown that as long as these are strictly adhered to by all owners, as well as enforced by the HOA, little action is required by the Municipality. This also applies to building control and therefore the requirement that all building plans must first be signed off by the HOA before submission to the Municipality.

Unfortunately, the other side is also true whereby certain estates have poor constitutions, related guidelines and an ineffective HOA. Often illegal land uses and building activities happen in such instances, forcing the Municipality to take action.

TDH: To summarise, what does estate living offer residents that conventional residential suburbs may not?

CV: Security, investing in a lifestyle and not just a property, easy access to sport and recreational activities, the feeling of exclusivity, secured services and well-maintained open spaces.

TDH: Is there anything specific that stands out with regards to Pinnacle Point as an estate?

CV: The unique location, low density, well-functioning HOA and fairly big single residential houses with high market values when compared to the rest of Mossel Bay and the Garden Route. Furthermore, an excellent golf course, although you have to play golf to appreciate it fully! The open spaces also stand out as attractive.

TDH: Any other interesting facts that are related to estate living, particularly in the Mossel Bay area?

CV: Estates offer investment in Mossel Bay that usually accompanies new infrastructure and revenue for the Municipality. It also attracts new residents from other parts of the country and abroad, which
again boasts the local economy. Also, retirement villages are mostly
in the form of estates or estates also have a retirement village component with a frail care facility. This is currently in huge demand in our area.

What is also interesting is that in towns such as Mossel Bay (with a well-functioning municipality), residential estates seem to be doing better in terms of property value when compared to similar estates in poorly run municipalities. It seems like there is some form of correlation.