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Jaime-Lee Gardner
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Louise Martin
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Community Organisations – Making a world of difference to property value

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Community Organisations – Making a world of difference to property value

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A residential community can boast state-of-the-art security, stunning green vistas, and great amenities, but the most desirable communities are those blessed with a tight-knit and organised group of individuals who are committed to maintaining high standards in their neighbourhood.

Global and South African statistics show that the organised approach to managing public areas, in partnership with the municipality, results in property values and business vitality out-performing those areas outside of managed areas.

This is achieved by community associations or Urban Improvement Districts (UIPs) that pull up their sleeves to fight crime and grime, and keep their communal spaces well maintained.

A great example is the Dainfern Community Association (DCA), incorporating Dainfern Golf and Country Estate, which has become virtually a parallel municipality in the three years since its inception. The DCA is funded by private companies and individuals, and comprises 14 independent entities that include the local shopping centres, office parks, Dainfern College, Witkoppen School and the residential estates themselves. It now also embraces Cedar Road, Broadacres and Fourways.

“We have aligned ourselves to the entire community, so as soon as you’re on William Nicol highway in Fourways, you’re looked after. We have a security and policing forum, and the municipality is responding much quicker to issues like broken traffic lights, and at a higher level,” says David Weyers, CEO of Dainfern Estate and a member of the DCA board.

Projects the DCA is engaged in include infrastructure maintenance, cleaning up litter, taking down old street signs, getting broken streetlights fixed, and erecting fencing. Labour is provided by a group of young entrepreneurs, while the uniforms, equipment and maintenance are paid for by the DCA.

“While it’s not actually our responsibility but that of the local municipality, we have decided to take matters into our own hands and clean up our own community to provide a better quality of life for all residents,” says Weyers.

The community efforts have had a significant impact on the value of property in the area, he adds, with Dainfern Valley topping the list of estates with the highest rentals in South Africa. “The high quality of lifestyle combined with safety and security has meant that homeowners can demand high value in terms of rental for tenants,” he says.

In KZN is the Ballito UIP, a public-private partnership with the KwaDakuza municipality. Established in July 2015, it is funded by local commercial property owners, and concerns itself with safety, cleanliness, general maintenance and environmental challenges facing the rapidly expanding Ballito node.

The delivery of private services by the Ballito UIP to public spaces has had a marked improvement on visible aesthetics of this hub, and is also able to leverage support from the local authorities. “This is not only having a hugely positive impact on the look and feel of the area, but it is fostering a greater sense of community and an understanding that we can only thrive through collective effort,” says UIP precinct manager Thierry Leclezio.

This year the Ballito UIP is in for another busy year of upgrades and improvements, with the construction of a stairway onto Emberton Beach, and the paving of the Lozi Park and Kyalami Park verges.

The aim of urban management is to stem the rate of urban decay as quickly as possible, before the need for a slow and often costly turnaround takes hold. A holistically managed urban environment improves social cohesion, aside from its function of cleaning, greening, maintenance, social responsibility, communication and safety and security, says Leclezio, adding that this is certainly the case for Ballito.

“We are seeing a greater sense of pride in Ballito, raised investor confidence, and a general ‘coming together’ of stakeholders who want the best for Ballito,” he says.

Umhlanga also has a very active UIP, uMhlanga Rocks UIP, which is made up of smaller UIPS and covers 70 large erven of commercial and residential usage (over 3000 individually rated properties), 12kms of public roads, servitudes and the promenade. It is rolling out five projects this year, all focused on cleaning and greening.

In Cape Town, meanwhile, an organisation of passionate folk called Clean C (Cape Town Beach Cleanup) is engaged in continual beach clean-ups and recycling projects, which in turn increase the attractiveness of suburbs alongside the seaboard.

Thus it’s the citizens themselves who are best able to maintain the value of their estates and suburbs.

As Shunnon Tulsiram, head of the eThekwini’s economic development and investment promotion unit, noted during his announcement of a council injection of R1.8 million into a precinct management programme for Durban’s key economic nodes, in partnership with the SA Property Owners Association (SAPOA) “In order to attract investment and growth, the city precinct needs to be well managed. Precinct management is an internationally proven approach to urban management.”

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