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Mega investment projects changing the (economic) landscape of the KZN South Coast.

2023-08-28 10:14:52

Multibillion property developments in Rand KwaZulu-Natal have been lauded by the Office of the Presidency for progress made in bringing investment pledges to fruition and for demonstrating that the province is a desirable investment destination for both local and foreign investors.

Serenity Hills, and Renishaw Coastal Precinct, were among investment projects announced at the South African Investment Conference, which helped exceed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 5-year investment target of 1.2 trillion by 26%.

Following the conference held in Johannesburg in April,  Deputy Ministers in the Presidency, Kenneth Morolong and Nomasonto Motaung visited the developments 4 August. They led a tour organised by Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) and Government Communication and Information System, to  showcase the progress and impact of these investment projects.

“The investments of both Serenity Hills and Renishaw Coastal Precinct will make a serious economic transformation for the country. Government is also committed to continue mobilising investments for both domestic and internationally to create sustainable jobs for the future of this country,” said Morolong.

Developed by the internationally renowned organisations, Vida Capital, Constructionize and local partner the Wenger Family, Serenity Hills is a R800 million 120-hectare eco-estate. The 600-unit estate will be sustainably constructed with uncompromised modern-luxury within an exquisite natural setting. Phased 1 was launched last year and there has already been a take up of 50% of the units, with local and international buyers from such countries as Canada, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Germany. With the environment in mind, 70 hectares of the estate will remain private conservation, home to some 250 bird species, 49 butterfly species, as well as game, with a generous buffer between villas to ensure privacy.

Sam Wenger, the Development Director for Serenity Hills said he was grateful for the recognition at SAIC and their inclusion to South African Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. During the site visit, Wenger also showcased various upliftment projects.  “For there to be any real growth in the area, we need to include everyone in the development’s success, which means upskilling, educating, and employing people from the surrounding area,” he said. Serenity hill has already created about 100 jobs, and continues to upskill and empower people, through the Sweetdale Skills Center. Here, unemployed youth who do not have opportunities to further their education after matric, receive training on artisanal and business skills to graduate as emerging entrepreneurs in carpentry, culinary arts and to become  electricity technicians. The Center has workshops, dorm facilities, classrooms and communal areas. As part of practical training for qualified artisans, the Skills Center provides services to Serenity Hills and, through this partnership, homeowners can employ these talented individuals for gardening and landscaping, carpentry, maintenance, housekeeping and hospitality therefore promoting self-sustainability.

Some of the students are trained to become bicycle technicians at the Sweetbike Community Project. This is a non-profit organisation that provides vulnerable schoolchildren with upcycled bicycles to ride to school. Quality bicycles are imported from Europe and refurbished at the Sweetbike Workshop, employing and upskilling people from the local communities. Once ready, these bicycles are donated to children attending rural schools from Umzumbe to Port Edward, with recipients given training in mechanics to maintain and look after the bikes.

Ayanda Masengemi, Associate Director at Serenity Hills who oversees the project, is one such beneficiary of the Serenity Hills upskilling. He works closely with local principals and local authorities to identify the children who would benefit most from bicycle donations.

Masengemi explained that the ground-up approach is making a real difference: “We are working closely with the municipality, Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal, and local ward councillors in the area, to prioritise partnerships with small local businesses as much as we can and employ local labourers to uplift the livelihoods of the local community. Construction is only temporary so we at Serenity Hills are thinking beyond creating sustainable and long-term job and business opportunities within and around the estate that will lead to economic growth.”

Also contributing to economic growth is the Renishaw Coastal Precinct,  the 1 300 hectares mixed-use development which is considered one of the country’s biggest developments currently underway. To date, R500m has been spent on this 25ha Renishaw Hills - the first development within Renishaw Coastal Precinct – out of an anticipated R1 billion, with a total anticipated spend of around R15 billion upon completion. This will include office parks, retail, educational and medical facilities.

Barto van der Merwe, Managing Director of Renishaw Property Developments said his positive experience with Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) and the South Coast Tourism and Investment Enterprise (SCTIE), was testament to the value of private-public partnerships.

Neville Matjie, Chief Executive Officer of TIKZN echoed this saying these developments were important investments for the province. “We have worked with both projects, coordinating the unblocking of bottlenecks in municipal processes so that the developments could run smoothly and timeously. As the provincial investment promotion agency, we reiterate that KwaZulu-Natal is open for business. We will continue to work and showcase the province’s competitive advantage and position as a world-class investment destination,” added Matjie.

Through the dtic, Renishaw has been enrolled into the Eastern Seaboard Initiative. “The investment potential has been well-established by Renishaw Hills, the mature lifestyle estate where homes have already escalated in value by 50% in five years. But we’re anticipating much more economic stimulus for surrounding communities as the development unfolds, with projects and collaborations in place to stimulate this growth,” said van der Merwe.

Consisting of five nodes surrounded by conservation areas, plans are in place to develop Renishaw Coastal Precinct into a mixed-use, self-sustaining precinct with far-reaching socio-economic benefits for the people in surrounding areas. The developers are committed to continuing the legacy of inclusivity and sustainability established by Crookes Brothers Limited, the parent company of Renishaw Property Developments. This has been demonstrated through the donation of 142ha of land to the local community through the KwaCele Tribal Council (KTC), as well as 10% of the development set to be acquired by the council through a buy-out process.

A portion of the land will also be converted into conservation areas, re-introducing the lush indigenous coastal forest and grassland that once dominated the area. Rehabilitation of the Mandawe Wetland is already underway using local labour, with local flora and fauna thriving beyond the precinct borders and more than 200 plant species noted. This not only enhances the region’s biodiversity; it creates an eco-tourism attraction with hiking and biking trails drawing visitors in while creating further employment opportunities.

The investments pledge by Renishaw, Serenity and 14 other companies from KZN at the Suth Africa Investment Conference demonstrate the province’s resilience and ability to rise above the adverse events which has dampened investor confidence.  Matjie believes these pledges a will not just drive the provincial economy revival but were also investments in the people of KwaZulu-Natal.

Ends----------------

Caption: On the eve of the South Africa Investment Conference, Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal partnered with the Dube TradePort and Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone to organize a Department of Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) business reception. The event, attended by diplomats, business leaders who pledged at SAIC, and stakeholders based in Gauteng and KZN, featured a keynote address by the KZN Leader of Government Business and MEC Siboniso Duma.


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