Village life1st Sep 2019
Gowrie Village in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is the quintessential country community, integrated into the greater village of Nottingham Road. Established in 2002, Gowrie’s sense of relaxed rural spaces and neighbourliness are key to the success of this mixed-use estate.
Gowrie Village targets buyers who value a peaceful country lifestyle, with stylish, manageable properties and quality design standards maintained by an architectural code and the Gowrie Village board. This is not, high-density living; although properties share wide verges, boundaries and perimeters, there is no ‘on-top-of-each-other’ feeling. Walkways, winding lanes and parks create safe areas for children to play, and people to walk their dogs or sit in the shade of tall trees and chat. Neighbours know each other. People say hello when they pass by.
Set within the hills and farms surrounding Nottingham Road, Gowrie has a sense of pastoral expansiveness and tranquillity. There is no traffic noise, no atmosphere of bustling town life. Yet the convenience of shops, restaurants and medical practitioners is right on the doorstep. People live here because they enjoy country living within a secure and convenient environment. Many (about 15% to 20%) have children enrolled at the acclaimed schools in the Midlands area. Clifton Preparatory is just a few minutes away, as are St Annes, Michaelhouse, Hilton College and Treverton.
Gowrie Village is an ideal halfway point between Johannesburg and Durban and, because security is good and there is so much to do in the area, this is a perfect place for a weekend retreat or getaway. There are numerous top-notch golf courses, including Gowrie’s own links-styled par-70, nine-hole course, fly-fishing, MTB trails, and all the attractions of the Midlands Meander tourism route.
Open to the public but secure
As suggested by its name, Gowrie Village is a mixed-use estate with a small commercial centre on its perimeter that is open to the general public during the day. But open public access ends at the edge of the shopping area. Security is monitored 24/7, with a staffed boom entry for visitors, who are issued a PIN password to gain access, and remotes for entry by property owners. Staff members working for residents have their ID logged in with security.
Gowrie’s HOA management structure consists of the board, the estate manager, the administrative manager and two ground staff, with security and other ground maintenance contracted out. The village itself consists of 144 levy payers, which includes the commercial precinct. Managing the common areas and commercial areas also falls within the HOA management sphere. Buildings within the commercial spaces are privately owned, some by the individual businesses, others by a commercial entity.
Gowrie Village is fortunate to have a very active board of directors – the current board has been in operation in the village since 2017. They are very hands-on and actively involved in the estate, working daily and keeping up to date with any changes in legislation, or anything new and innovative that comes on the market. The retention of property values and maintaining Gowrie’s high investment potential is a priority.
Staying on top of things
Something that was raised at the last board meeting was the question of ‘what are we doing to add value?’ To address this, the board is putting out a survey before the approaching AGM to gain forthright feedback and constructive ideas, and input on concepts and suggestions from property owners that might add value. There is a genuine desire to determine what people may want and/or need.
One of the most important aspects already identified is ongoing risk management, with identification and rectification managed by specialists such as engineers.
Graham Balfour, Gowrie Village Board Chairman, explains the need for a more technical and expert mindset to address any issues or matters up for consideration. ‘There are two major things we have to drive: firstly we need risk management and, secondly, we need to have a very clear view on what our capital reserve position is. For example, we have a kilometre of public road that we must maintain, so when are we going to resurface it? Is it in eight years, or 10? What are we going to do? We need to know the way ahead.’
High quality water
Another area that receives ongoing management attention is water supply. Gowrie’s water is not municipal but comes from two pristine boreholes, and the quality and quantity are excellent.
The average daily water use of Gowrie Village and the neighbouring Gowrie Farm Estate is monitored regularly. Water readings are taken physically three times a week, and if there’s a suspected problem, more often, sometimes daily. Any water leaks are detected through water usage – the amount pumped versus the amount used. There is regular communication with owners regarding their water, with instant notification of any emergency.
The success of Gowrie Village and the consistently high retention of property values here are based on its success in delivering the Gowrie concept: safe country living within a familiar, friendly community, with all of the conveniences close by, and easy accessibility to larger centres when needed.
About 60% of Gowrie residents are permanent, with quite a few (very active) retirees. More and more newcomers are younger families, with children who can roam freely and safely about. Houses are often street-facing, with verandas that evoke days gone by when people would sit on their ‘stoep’ and chat with passers-by.
Gowrie really is a village– the perfect place to call home.