A once-sleepy village set in a quiet, peaceful valley surrounded by the Drakensberg's panoramic views in KwaZulu-Natal will soon be developed into a huge money-spinning opportunity for investors and the local community.
The R170million Clouds End Country Estate, which borders Wakkerstroom on the south eastern part of Mpumalanga, about two-and-a-half hours' drive from Johannesburg, is set to become a unique farming and upmarket housing complex.
It will feature a number of luxury residential developments with hotels, a game farm, a Zulu cultural village and a variety of other activities including a spa and a brewery. Farming activities will focus primarily on livestock, fruit and grain.
Pieter Beukes, head of Greenflash Training, who developed the concept, says he wanted to develop "something that would change the phase of housing development as we know it".
"We wanted to develop something that would be different from the golf estate developments that have become so widespread," says Beukes, who is also the project's managing director.
More than 420 fully-serviced full title stands of about 2000 square metres each will be developed at about R600000 a stand.
The residential area will, however, cover only 2percent of the 4000ha total space of the project, says Beukes.
Stand owners have a proportionate share in the estate property and an option to obtain shares in the commercial businesses, farming operations and game reserve, says Beukes.
To benefit from this lucrative development are about 20 families of farmworkers who have been living on some of the farms owned by three previous owners.
According to Beukes, the farmworkers will also gain full rights to their properties.
Also to benefit from the development are about 200 villagers who occupy an adjacent 3000ha. Beukes says the local chief has made 1500ha of this land available to develop a game reserve.
The reserve, once developed, will be owned on a 50-50 basis and will be open to the general public to generate the needed income for the villagers.
Relevant KwaZulu-Natal government departments have been consulted and Beukes says the local government has already approved the plans.
According to Beukes, R1million will be made available for small-scale farming and training as well as mentorship for the villagers.
More than 500 temporary jobs and 200 permanent jobs will be created.
He says that 12 farms were bought and consolidated to start building this five-phased development from August.
It is expected to take five years to complete.
Beukes, a developer with an entrepreneurial and farming background, says he is excited about the new development and, in particular, its empowerment element.
According to him, houses belonging to the farmworkers will be worth R1,3million each once the project has been completed.