UK investors plan SA development

Following on the heels of the launch of numerous new residential and golf estate developments along the southern coast of South Africa, MWB Group plc, a leading hospitality and property group listed in London, has announced plans for the development of yet another major residential and golf estate - this time a 1.5 billion rand project on the farm Hanglip to the east of Plettenberg Bay.

The development, with an ultimate value of about 1.5 billion rand, represents one of the biggest foreign property investments yet in the Southern Cape. MWB, which owns the prestigious hotel chains Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, was chosen as Britain's property company of the year in 2000, while every year subsequently the company has been voted Britain's best hotel group.

Richard Balfour-Lynn, one of the founders and controlling shareholders of MWB Group, said he was shown the 1,100-hectare site about a year ago when visiting South Africa to give the keynote address at an international property symposium in Johannesburg.

"Following our acquisition of the Hanglip property, we appointed a team of local experts to research the very best and most responsible use of the land within a development framework. They looked specifically at the potential impact of such a venture on the environment and the community as well as on the area's existing infrastructure and resources.

"We are planning a model development that will set new standards in design, environmental concern, resource management and benefits for the community."

In addition to some 700 stands grouped in a series of residential nodes, the low-density development on Hanglip will include an 18-hole golf course and clubhouse, a five-star hotel and an equestrian centre. The clubhouse and other amenities will all be open to the public.

Surrounded by deep ravines, the site is located mostly on the coastal plateau overlooking the sea. It is bordered on one side by the Bitou River and on the other by the Keurbooms River. Most of the land is covered in valley thicket and mountain fynbos while on the plateau, grassland pasture for cattle farming has replaced the indigenous vegetation of the previous century. About 16% of the site will be taken up by the residential nodes and the golf course, with both located within the existing grassland area.

"Should approval be granted, we will implement a major rehabilitation programme of the wetland areas along the Bitou River, restore 268 hectares of degraded land on the plateau to fynbos and fund the eradication of invasive alien vegetation in the catchment areas of the Bitou and Keurbooms rivers outside the borders of our property," said Balfour-Lynn, who is presently building a family home in Plettenberg Bay.

Application for approval of the Hanglip project is being made in the name of True Motives 46 (Pty) Ltd, the company established in South Africa as the vehicle for the development. The shareholders of True Motives 46 are the controlling shareholders of Marylebone Warwick Balfour Group plc (MWB Group).

MWB Management (Pty) Ltd has been appointed development managers.

Article from: www.sundaytimes.co.za