Cornubia is taking shape

Category Umhlanga Ridge New Development

CONSTRUCTION work is forging ahead at the multi-billion rand Cornubia development north of Durban.

From sugar-cane a mere two years ago, to almost more than 60ha already converted into industrial and residential development, this is a joint-venture between co-landowners and co-developers, Tongaat Hulett and eThekwini Municipality.

As KwaZulu-Natal's first national cabinet-endorsed priority project, this innovative development is the first integrated human settlement in eThekwini where those, previously disadvantaged, now have access to housing and other socio-economic opportunities in a major economic investment node according to development director from Tongaat Huletts, Karen Petersen.

"Tongaat Hulett's industrial and business estate will provide more than 7 000 new sustainable jobs over a five to seven-year period, with about 54 000 short-term jobs created during this period in infrastructure and top-structure construction," she said.

As it is located immediately adjacent to the first few phases of the low-income housing, this will provide employment opportunities to the residents of these settlements.

"With the shortage of well-located serviced industrial land in the city, and huge demand, Tongaat has sold more than 52ha of its total 70ha of industrial platform within 12 months of its launch in March last year. This leaves  only 18ha available for sale of which 13ha are being considered by a large group for a distribution centre," said Petersen.

"The bulk of the purchasers have included large local developers, listed property funds as well as end-users. The first few transfers have already taken place and the first factory is expected to be operational by the end of 2013."

A major end-user, who will be investing more than R500m into its new centralised business campus in the industrial estate, is JSE-listed African Oxygen Limited (Afrox).

Afrox said its new development on its 110 000m2 site would be the single biggest project it has undertaken in South Africa. This new facility, which is expected to be open in 2014, will accommodate Afrox's existing industrial and medical gas-filling operations, currently located at  Maydon Wharf, and two other operations in Pinetown and Seaview Petersen said.

eThekwini Municipality is completing the construction of the first 486 double-storey freehold units in the pilot project, and it is hoped that Cornubia's new residents will be handed the keys to their new homes before the end of the year, once all the services have been installed.

The second phase of the housing project will deliver more than 2 100 units.

APART from the industrial and residential uses, the balance of Cornubia will be zoned as open space, commercial and mixed-use development, providing more than two million square meters of bulk.

"With Investec Property keen on opening its 80 000m2 value retail destination shopping centre in 2017, pressure will rise on the need to secure funding for bulk infrastructure, such as the various road and interchange upgrades which will be required to unlock these developments," said development director at Tongaat Huletts, Karen Petersen.

"The Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) has indicated its interest to provide co-finance towards the construction of the upgrade of the MR458 road-over rail and wetland bridge, from Ottawa, giving enhanced accessibility to the industrial estate in the future.

"With a second EIA in process, it is hoped to obtain planning rights for the balance of Cornubia by mid-2014," she said.

"This will enable Tongaat Hulett to develop the other portions of land that still remains in their ownership. With huge demand for affordable housing and very little stock, it is likely that gap housing (for those that earn between R3 500 and R18 000 per month) opportunities will become available by 2015."

Petersen said  Tongaat Hulett hopes to deliver several thousand affordable homes through partnerships with other roleplayers via the FLISP and other subsidy mechanisms.

As a restructuring zone, Cornubia will also provide opportunities for social (rental) housing and discussions are underway to identify suitable parcels of land as well as secure institutional subsidies and restructuring capital grants for this type of medium to high density housing.

With the affordable housing market active, stable and growing, Tongaat Hulett  believes that despite risks and volatility, this market is reliable and consistent.

"The company believes that there is clearly a market for lower-priced housing, and by responding and positioning Cornubia, and other suitable land, in terms of national integration policies, both social rental stock and gap housing can be provided at scale."

Author: Michelle Dennis

Submitted 28 Aug 13 / Views 4669