A LUXURIOUS COUNTRY AMBIENCE PERFECTLY INTERTWINED WITH A SOPHISTICATED EQUESTRIAN ENVIRONMENT, AND A LINK TO THE BEACH. WHAT MORE COULD ONE ASK FOR? THE CLUB SEATON IS NORTH COAST LIVING AT ITS BEST, WRITES GREG ARDÉ
It probably came as no surprise to members of the jet-set who’ve long since invested in a luxury pad on KZN’s booming North Coast, that the area is South Africa’s fastest-growing wealth corridor. The well heeled apparently have a sense of these things – which is probably why the developers of The Club Seaton are marketing their offering at the mink and manure set.
The development, near Sheffield Beach and Christmas Bay, is aiming for a sophisticated equestrian environment comprising stately manor homes on larger plots together with “ribbon- shaped hamlet districts”.
Seaton’s marketing drive is well-timed. In June specialist bank AfrAsia Bank, with headquarters in Mauritius, released a report saying the region north of Durban – from uMhlanga to beyond Ballito – was the country’s fastest-growing wealth market. Wealth held in that area rose by 25% over the past decade to $54-billion in 2018, the bank said. The growth from $43-billion is on the back of construction and property (however weak locals might feel these sectors are).
According to the bank, the region was home to 3 300 high net worth individuals defined as those with $1-million or more of investable assets, and 210 multi-millionaires, people with $10-million or more of investable assets.
The bank quoted a wealth specialist who said: “Our research shows that over the last ten years South Africa’s two main wealth markets, namely Johannesburg and Cape Town, have performed relatively poorly.” Gautengers bought second houses elsewhere in SA, but not Cape Town, which was hit by the drought.
Besides, square metre prices in the Pearls in Durban now fetch similar levels to top apartments in Bantry Bay and Clifton in Cape Town, the bank said.
The Seaton plan was first hatched in 2007 before the bottom fell out of the property market, and has been revived by Durban property mogul Murray Collins, who commissioned architect Brent Buchanan to develop a design concept for Seaton. To date, the design has already come alive around a magnificently restored historic manor house.
Buchanan said that while the urban design layout of The Club – which is the first place to be launched at Seaton – is traditional in character, a modern farmhouse style is promoted for the homes in this quintessential equestrian precinct.
“The architectural guidelines aim to reduce the scale of homes by encouraging a series of architectural elements built around courtyard environments, with limited ‘zones of disturbance’.”
This means each stand – there will only be 87 in this first phase – will respect rehabilitated natural grassland and riparian environments to create a “luxurious country ambience”. Stands range in size from 900m2 to 13 000m2.
The restored club house will offer fine dining by noted restaurateurs Paul Sheppard, Ray Friedman and Brenton Franks, and will feature an elegant cocktail bar and verandah together with ample lawn for marquees providing “admirably” for wealthy equestrian types wanting to socialise at weekends, as well as equestrian tournaments.
Buchanan says the stables and indoor riding arena are currently in development and aim to make use of the best practice with regards to comfort, efficiency and maintenance. He also adds that Seaton’s bridle paths, jogging and cycle tracks will criss-cross a variety of well- connected ecological biomes and link the equestrian estate with the beach, and eventually with the uMhlali River.
There will also be a lively entertainment district with a theatre, micro-brewery, gin and rum bars, and a curated selection of delis and food outlets. “As far as possible these artisanal cuisine offerings will be supplemented from ‘produce gardens’ on the estate.
Herb and vegetable ‘kitchen gardens’ form the focal point of this restaurant district, while fruit orchards and vegetables requiring larger production areas can be cultivated in road reserves, servitudes, parking areas and other non-developable areas.” Buchanan says a boutique garden centre will provide for residents.
There will also be a commercial, retail and institutional district, its composition to be determined by the needs of Seaton residents; a school to cater for 1 000 pre-primary and secondary pupils; and an adjacent sports precinct to serve the Seaton community.
Buchanan says the development is being led by sustainability factors to ensure 100% of waste is responsibly recycled and renewable and alternate energy systems are available.
“The overarching design guidelines and initiatives of Seaton are to ultimately support happy, healthy, active residents who engage in a mutually beneficial symbiotic community within a beautiful environment.”