Meet the trustees14th Dec 2020
The residents of Kingswood are represented by four involved, committed and hard-working trustees who oversee all decisions related to the management of the estate in partnership with the four trustees nominated by the developer. We chatted to three of the trustees to find out more about what they love about Kingswood, and how they came to live here.
It’s reassuring that the four HOA trustees are all professional people. Roy Edge is a chartered accountant, Dr Pieter Viljoen is a professional engineer, Amanda Smit is a labour lawyer, and Gerrit Botha is involved in insurance. Together they can keep an eye on finances, infrastructure, negotiations, and staff oversight. Most recently, the trustees were given the confidence of the home owners when 87% voted to approve the purchase of the golf course from the developer, in a move that has assured that control rests with those who live on the estate.
Amanda Smit is a practising labour lawyer who was invited to become a co-opted member this year after a trustee resigned. Amanda has lived in George since 2010, when she moved here to be with her high school sweetheart, now her husband. They bought and developed an erf in Kingswood in 2018 as part of a plan to create a safe home life for their two young sons, and themselves. Of course, Amanda isn’t naive – care needs to be taken wherever you live, but the estate ticked all the boxes with regard to the aesthetic that Amanda likes, and the close proximity to school, work, shops and the airport. As an engineer, Amanda’s husband, Wicus, travels regularly for work, and is happy to know that his young family is safe as can be when he is away.
Amanda and Wicus find that the Kingswood experience is that of a community within a town, very much echoing their own small-town upbringing. She appreciates how Kingswood people really step up to help when help is needed. In the estate there is easy access to safe play parks and open areas. And a bonus is that there are many other young families, so their children can be assured of making lifelong friends. Parents and in-laws have moved closer too. As a busy working mother of two young children, and a trustee, Amanda has less time to read, or hang out or braai with friends, but she still enjoys relaxing with a glass or two of excellent red wine.
Dr Pieter Viljoen
Dr Pieter Viljoen has been a trustee for two years. He and his wife Marlene moved to Kingswood in 2015 when Pieter retired from his role at Aurecon where he had worked for more than three decades. They had holidayed in the Garden Route from Pretoria each year and decided to retire here. They bought a vacant plot back in 2008, and built their house in 2015. Pieter and Marlene’s three sons live far away – Johannesburg, Pretoria and Los Angeles – and so do their six grandchildren. Although they haven’t seen the young families since February (what a year it has been!), they all ‘meet’ as regularly as possible on WhatsApp and Zoom. Technology can make the world a little smaller. Pieter is an active member of the George Camera Club. In addition, he plays golf and walks, and he and Marlene are both members of the local gym. They are busy socially but they do take time off to travel far and wide with their offroad caravan.
Pieter and Marlene love living at Kingswood, where there is a sense of community and a good mix of people – kids on bicycles, people walking their dogs, older people, younger people. They really like hearing the sound of children, and don’t want to be somewhere where there aren’t any.
Roy retired as a partner in a firm of chartered accountants five years ago. He and his wife Gill decided to uproot from Pretoria and move to a less hectic environment. After an extensive fact-finding mission, in which they researched other options including Ballito and Hermanus, they came to what they consider the easy and obvious conclusion: George was their preference.
Indeed, when they were introduced to Kingswood, they immediately fell in love with the estate that would be their new home. After all, it’s marketed as ‘urban lifestyle living’ at its best, in a growing city, and yet placed between the mountains and the sea. Certainly the very fine golf course was a draw, as both Roy and Gill are avid golf players. (They are members at both Kingswood and George Golf Clubs.) Roy and Gill’s sons are in Canada and Pretoria, and hopefully they’ll see more of them in 2021.
Roy was co-opted as a trustee in early 2019, and immediately became involved in looking at the aspects of the estate that he felt should not be neglected. In Roy’s own words: ‘Firstly, we must ensure that we retain the “urban living environment” into which we bought. With a substantial increase in properties sold on the estate, which commercially is so important, we should not compromise the vast unspoilt areas of the estate: the dams, rivers, walking and cycling trails, parks for kids and, of course, our beautiful golf course. We must also continue to cherish the wildlife on the estate: the springbok, the bushbuck as well as the vast array of birdlife.
‘Secondly, we must ensure that Kingswood’s top 100-rated Golf Course retains its status. After recently acquiring it from the previous owner, and under the guidance of the course designer, Danie Obermeyer, and the greenkeeper, Ivan van Heerden, I feel confident that the course which was neglected to some extent, will be restored to the pristine condition that all home owners and golfers expect. I would like to see our course, recognised by the PGA in scheduling some more golf tournaments here. So, possibly with TV coverage, we can showcase our beautiful estate to South Africa and beyond.
‘Thirdly, I want to emphasise the lifestyle aspect under which our estate was marketed. To me “lifestyle” means that Kingswood should enhance the lives of each and every one of its home owners in accordance with their expectations when they bought here. In the next five years I would like to see a clubhouse facility built above the 10th tee, where it was originally planned to be located. It would be a facility that could efficiently serve golf and its related activities and, at the same time, provide for the needs of non-golfers. It would include a quality restaurant or dining facility where one could enjoy the view of the estate and of the Outeniqua Mountains. Gerrit and Sonja Botha K Tracey Whitelaw As an extension of facilities aimed at home owners’ lifestyles, I visualise the possibility of adding a gym, a hair salon and a coffee shop. The options are endless.
‘Naturally all of this depends on finances and the will of the home owners, which may initially limit the upgrading of existing facilities. The simple point is that home owners must have their lifestyle needs met as far as is possible within the boundaries of the estate.
‘Finally with the Garden Route recognised as one of the prime destinations in South Africa for both local residents and foreign tourists, I want the name “Kingswood” to be synonymous with that of the Garden Route. People must think of Kingswood, and its facilities and its golf course, as being the Garden Route’s preferred residential estate and tourist destination. We have so much going for us here at Kingswood that we needn’t play second fiddle to any estate or destination in this area. In these difficult times we are presently financially secure, and – with home owners willing to participate in a shared vision for all, – we will succeed. ‘
Gerrit was unavailable for an interview at the time that we went to press. However, he did want to share his excitement around the positive feedback he has experianced recently. In the last few months he has received at least 14 serious Kingswood investment enquiries from friends and family. Potential investors are already seeing significant improvements since the HOA recently took control of the golf course. This is a feather in the cap for the trustees and CEO Willem Jacobs and the team.
We’ll find out more about Gerrit’s vision in the next issue of Kingswood Buzzard.