We lament the urban creep, yet we all live in cities. (Assuming that reading this you are not, as one of my more colourful classmates is doing with family and all, living in the Karoo!)

We lament the urban creep, yet we all live in cities. (Assuming that reading this you are not, as one of my more colourful classmates is doing with family and all, living in the Karoo!)

Then why Johannesburg when we could be staring at the mountain, or walking on the beach instead? We appear to be at a very different ‘place’ than the average Capetonian, for example. Durbanites are again their own sort. Most answer that this is where the money is. So financial gain then. Followed closely by security, of course - a need we pay a hefty penny for. The moment we mention that we live here, the first question we are asked is “What do you do about security?”

Taking advice from well-run businesses who listen to the customer, it also seems that of great importance to most is lifestyle.... convenience.... entertainment... structure.
Being so frightfully busy of late our time is precious. It is so much easier and more relaxing to have all the amenities laid on, close by.
And it must look the part - beautification!

One thing is apparent - doing nothing in this area would not seem to be the answer.
Glenferness, for example, is a touch ad hoc, inundated with traffic galore and lots of informal stuff going on. And we all know this traffic is going to get worse.

What do we do then?

We hunted around for suburbs that enjoyed enhanced value, but that were not estates.

There are quite a few, actually, with larger stands too. Much larger - averaging 4000 sqm and moving right up to just over 7000 sqms. Areas like Sandhurst, Lower and Upper Houghton & Houghton Estates, Oaklands, Forest Town, Westcliff, and of course, Inanda.
Most are surrounded by very busy main thoroughfares and even freeways. Sandhurst has 6 very needed lanes of road on two sides (Sandton Drive and William Nicol) and yet being in it you'd never say so. Nor do you feel the frenzy of Sandton City close by, but it's a hop if you want a social, retail or entertainment fix. Houghton Estate survives despite the M1 passing through and is buffered by high grade offices on one side and a golf course on the other. The ‘burbs’ are in reality very quiet. And they pay to live there, make no mistake. Sandhurst has been known to fetch R 40 million for a mere stand.

Granted some of the lifestyle stuff is missing. There are no horse paths or cycle networks. No running trails. (Although I believe you can enjoy yoga in the park bordering Sandton Drive now. Who knew?!) But then we are not sure that there are many horse-riders willing to brave it in Glenferness anymore anyway. And this is despite the lack of development. Kyalami and upwards are more fortunate here.
We always slow right down for horses, but I hear of some that simply refuse. The only surviving nature is on private property because here it hasn’t been poached.

That's where estates like Waterfall and Steyn City show this can be done with a touch of cunning, a scratch of the head, and with under or over passes. In Steyn City, 50% of the place is parklands and so far they have planted over 200 000 indigenous trees! I fully believe an African Bullfrog might like to rest up in one of these glens and a jackal may find its way.

Living in busy Ascot, England I was enamoured to encounter a fox one night staring in the window. I watched a long, long while until his eyes finally met mine. He literally jumped when he realised I was watching, turned on his heels and ran. Beautiful!

Rivers lend themselves to be naturally used in this way. (I know, I know....what about the specialist security issues we face here? There is a storm of technology that could help with this. There must be some talent that could figure it out. We are South Africans after all.)

Wherever a river runs through it in the world, you will often find it the focus of lifestyle trails. I have personally seen this.... let me think where....all over Europe, America, New Zealand, Asia, Australia, South America. Morningside and Bryanston.

But it is also much more of an issue to get people to agree to their land being used for such pathways – that is possibly the most tricky part of all and apparently this has failed in the past. Shrug. People will be people. Society will be society.

One thing is for sure, it is doubtful that the value of our properties will escalate without the security, convenience and proximity factors thrown in.

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