No other precinct in the Greater Cape Town area has undergone so complete and so impressive a transformation as Brackenfell, says Rowan Alexander, Director of Alexander Swart Property.
“In the last few years,” said Alexander, “we have seen Brackenfell go from being a mere dormitory suburb serving Cape Town and the surrounding precincts to being a prosperous, thriving, self-contained suburb – and there can be no doubt at all that property development has been both a catalyst and a beneficiary of this transformation.”
The Cape Town City Council and the local municipality, said Alexander, with the significant help of funds generated by property developers, have enhanced and improved Brackenfell’s infrastructure with such projects as:
· The landscaping and in many cases the tree-planting of public open spaces, central traffic islands and verges on the suburb’s highways and boulevards; what is more, said Alexander, this has been done with indigenous water-wise plants which add greatly to the appeal of the area.
· The upgrading or building of new access roads to the freeways such as the R300/Bottelary interchange and the link between Old Oak Road and the N1.
· The upgrading of the Saxdowne road to Kuils River.
Following closely behind the development of some 650 housing units built in Burgundy and Sonkring since 2012 have been a number of new schools and school upgrades, among the most notable being the government’s new Protea Heights High School and the private enterprise Curro Castle Pre-Primary and Curro Primary schools. The government has also announced the go-ahead of the Vredekloof Primary School and the contract for this has just been awarded.
“Perhaps, however”, said Alexander, “the most significant of all the changes at Brackenfell has been the ongoing development in Brackenfell’s industrial areas such as the Brackengate Business Park. Most of the development has been for very large warehousing and distribution centres and among those who have moved in here have been Food Lovers’ Market, JCB (the construction plant manufacturers), British American Tobacco, DSV Freight, Cape Air-Conditioning and The Hunting Group. This group is UK-headquartered and manufactures highly sophisticated pipe casing and tubular goods for large-scale industrial drilling operations, usually in search of minerals”.
Hunting’s managing director for sub-Saharan operations, Ross McKay, said that although Brackenfell industrial land prices are “not cheap and, in fact, are on a par with those nearer Cape Town”, what had drawn his company to Brackenfell was the availability of ample space – which these days cannot be found in the Cape’s traditional industrial nodes such as Epping, Paarden Eiland and Montagu Gardens. In addition, the improved ability to get trucks with large abnormal loads onto the R300, the N1 and N2 highways as a result of interchange upgradings has been a factor making the area attractive, said McKay. The development of a further industrial land in phase two at Brackengate now being launched will continue to boost the area.
Prominent among the big companies occupying large spaces in Brackenfell is Shoprite, who in 2016 started developing a 60,000m2 avant-garde warehouse in the area, which is capable of serving 200 trucks per hour. This facility is now being doubled up to create what will be one of the largest distribution centers in South Africa.
“In addition to the above, the business node on the Old Paarl Road has”, said Alexander, “since 2014 witnessed redevelopment on a large scale, most notably in the upgrading of the Pick ‘n Pay Hypermarket, which now has complementary line shops and restaurants and has expanded into adjacent space, making this area a lively business hub. Further development across the road is now under way at the Brackenfell Shopping Centre, and this includes outlets for ABSA Bank, KFC and the Action Cricket and Netball arenas”.
“The above and other developments”, said Alexander, “have been assisted by large obligatory contributions from property developers for all new work, and by substantial new rate payments from the business enterprises and new home owners who have been attracted to the area”. “In the last five years”, he said, “payments to the municipality from developers and new property owners have increased tenfold”.
Repeating that residential property at Brackenfell has both spurred on and benefited from the area’s improved infrastructure, facilities and services, Alexander said that the 10,2% average increase in house prices over the last five years at Brackenfell had been among the best in South Africa. Giving one example, he said that a three-bedroom 175 m2 home with a swimming pool on a 500 m2 plot in Brackenfell which sold in 2012 for R1,3 million would today achieve a price of R2,1 million.
Alexander said that he is often asked whether this price growth is sustainable, and the answer is always yes because the remaining open ground (along the Bottelary Road where it meets Kruispad) cannot be given sewerage for the foreseeable future. The shortage of new housing in the area will therefore continue to boost the price of existing homes. “One effect of the current situation”, he said, “has been to make renting more popular. At the Brittany project, now nearing completion, 49 homes developed by Trinity have all been purchased by a single investor, who will rent them out at prices from R13,500 to R16,500 a month”.
“The high standard of all new Brackenfell housing has been a complete break with the what was seen here a decade ago and, as I have said, has given Brackenfell a new image, one that makes it attractive to more affluent buyers.”