Once a dear little hamlet bordering KwaZulu-Natal’s Valley of a Thousand Hills, Hillcrest underwent a massive property boom before becoming the established Durban suburb we know today. Conceived with modest ambitions as a self-governed farming village among sprawling fields of sugar cane, it was often used by townies as a peaceful country escape. Those who wanted a safer, less crowded country lifestyle only 35 km from Durban had it good – at least until the cosy town was rezoned for office and commercial use.
But, luckily, Cotswold Downs Golf and Lifestyle Estate in the affluent Upper Highway area offers a little something of the old Hillcrest. The estate is modelled on the Cotswolds area in the United Kingdom, a rural landscape harbouring stone-built houses with manicured gardens, each community clustered round a village green where the townspeople meet. This architectural vision of a venerable English settlement is evident in the grey slate roofs and other stone used in the urban design and planning of Cotswold Downs.
There’s fresh country air in abundance on this 220-hectare estate, which has enough unspoiled wilderness to make you feel far away from the city. Nature has been allowed to take its course, and the low-density country life that the estate’s residents so treasure is here to stay. No matter where they are located on the estate, homeowners enjoy views over indigenous grasslands, lakes and escarpment forest inhabited by duiker and other wildlife. The Nqutu River provides a natural wetland which is home to at least 239 bird species.
The estate had a slow start with the economic downturn that occurred in 2010, but during the last two years development has been at an all-time high, with around a hundred houses being constructed per year. “We are making big strides towards setting the estate up for a sustainable future,” says Estate Manager Casper Nice.
The well-secured estate comprises eight villages with 698 residential opportunities in total – all designed with space and privacy in mind. One option for investors is a package deal that enables them to see pre-designed and priced homes going to market. Alternatively, plots can be bought, followed by the necessary handshakes with accredited architect and construction teams, after which building can commence. Seven sectional title units are also available and ideally suited to families who enjoy the spirit of community and neighbourliness. One of the many drawcards of the Cotswold Downs country lifestyle, particularly for families, is the convenient proximity of some of the most reputable private and government schools in the province.
The recently opened leisure centre, managed by a very capable team and headed up by Wayne Krambeck, a member and Fellow Professional of the PGA of South Africa, boasts magnificent views overlooking the valley and 18-hole championship golf course. It has enhanced demand for the estate as it offers quality with a variety of activities for homeowners, including a modern training facility with professional trainers, a squash court, two tennis courts, a well-stocked pro shop. The Cotswold pub and an in-house restaurant, managed by Guy Cluver and Chris Black of the famed Bellevue Cafe and Lupa Osteria eateries, is open to the public and fast becoming a must-visit for anyone who enjoys great cuisine with homely flavours.
The signature Matkovich 18-hole golf course is undoubtedly one of the best in KwaZulu-Natal, if not the very best, and is fast becoming a must-play course in South Arica. Cotswold has twice been voted the best-maintained golf course in KZN, and it was also recognised as one of the best new golf courses in South Africa in 2006. It has hosted the World Amateur Golfers Championship and three World Pro-Am events, among other tournaments.
Another aspect for investors to consider is that in the near future homeowners could be contracted into taking a large stake in the golf club, thus benefiting from profit share. Buying into the estate would give homeowners a level of control over some of the managerial and socio-economic decisions made concerning the estate.
“Our residents are multigenerational and multicultural; some are golfers, and some aren’t. Though one thing we all have in common is an understanding of and respect for the natural environment that we thrive in here,” says Patrick Weldon, assistant estate manager.
Along with the indoor facilities, homeowners can enjoy well-signposted walking trails heading into the forested hills, which offer an escape into the bush for those who just can’t get enough fresh air. Strategically positioned parks ensure that leisure time outdoors is safe for children. An additional project in the pipeline this year is the completion of the village green, which, through careful design and planning, Casper and Patrick aim to turn into the social hub of the estate. The use of natural materials for the benches, jungle gym and other features will enhance the organic soul of the estate.
The newly installed fibre to the home network by Telkom offers a range of packages for homeowners. This system complements the estate-managed fibre network that is responsible for resource management, such as efficient energy distribution, water management systems and hi-tech advanced security measures.
So what else is lined up for the future of Cotswold Downs?
Continual development in each village of the estate is increasing its commercial value, and attracting more homeowners and investors. Patrick adds: “We have an even spread of development occurring across the estate, which is testimony to the fact that each and every area is rich with potential.”
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