There’s a lot more to be excited about in Port Elizabeth’s Western Suburbs now.
The western suburbs of Port Elizabeth are often viewed as the ugly stepsisters to the Indian Ocean-hugging Summerstrand and Blue Water Bay. But with the recent opening of Baywest mall, off Walker Drive in Sherwood, this impolite stigma is changing fast.
From the N2 Cotswold offramp which heads off to the Garden Route, running all the way west to the wild lands and small holdings of Kragga Kamma, is Port Elizabeth’s future – the gateway from where the city of 1,3m inhabitants is set to expand.
At 90,000m2 Baywest Mall is the largest shopping centre to open its doors in the Eastern Cape. Developed as a joint venture between Abacus Asset Management and the Billion Group, this R2-billion investment features some 250 stores, restaurants and entertainment attractions such as an ice rink, an 8-screen Ster-Kinekor Cinema complex with an IMAX screen, a ten-pin bowling alley, hi-tech games arcade and indoor dodgem cars.
Baywest City managing director Gavin Blows said other businesses and developments in the area have said that the development of Baywest has changed the perception of the western suburbs from an area too far removed from the Port Elizabeth city centre, to that of “a new hub of growth and possibility for the city.”
“Baywest Mall was the catalyst for the development of Baywest City, and with the successful opening of the mall under our belts, we can concentrate on rolling out the rest of Phase One of Baywest City, starting with the recent ground-breaking on a three-storey, four-star green rated office block. A lifestyle centre, a private school and hospital, housing developments and commercial space is also to come as part of Phase One,” he said.
Down the road from Baywest are the older, less brash, more sedate established garden suburbs of Sunridge Park, Framesby and Fernglen noted for their excellent schools which have notoriously long waiting lists. So desperate are parents to get a place for their kids in these schools, that they are buying up property to qualify to be first in the queue.
In stark contrast to the behemoth of Baywest, the Sunridge Village centre has a quaint community feel, offering small boutique shops, friendly greengrocers, a florist, a biltong bar and an assortment of restaurants from a steak ranch to pizzarias to Asian fusion fare.
Around the corner from Sunridge Park and Baywest Mall are Port Elizabeth’s high density residential estates of Linton Grange, Lorraine, Sherwood, Westering, Rowallan Park, Hunters Retreat, Morningside and Kabega Park. Key to the popularity of these suburbs is security.
Samantha Peters, who owns a townhouse in Sherwood with her husband, Byron and their one-year-old son, said they had decided to buy the property because they were looking for the safety offered by gated complexes. “We wanted security mostly because Port Elizabeth is so small so you do not spend much time in a car getting from point A to point B,” she said.
She is right. Stretching south west, just down the drag from the townhouse complexes on Kragga Kamma Road are the grasslands, horse fields and smallholdings of Theescombe.
It is here, just a mere 15 km drive from Port Elizabeth Central , that the road leads to the privately owned Kragga Kamma Game Park where giraffe, zebra, nyala and bontebok graze oblivious to the proximity of the bustling metro on their doorstep.
The bucolic surrounds of Colleen Glen have inspired a range of wedding venues and rustic child-friendly family eateries like Brella’s Tea Garden and play park, African Sky’s and the popular Holmeleigh Farm, which hosts children’s birthday parties in the midst of cows, chickens, goats and rabbits.
This rare proximity to the best of both worlds, urban and rural, from a modern mega-mall to the call of the wild and the sighs of the Indian ocean just nearby, makes the western part of Port Elizabeth so enticing.
According to Ward 8 councillor Gustav Rautenbach, it is this and more that continues to attract people to the western suburbs of Port Elizabeth.
It is a beautiful area, with really lovely open spaces and it is close to everything. We are close to Walmer Park Shopping Centre, Baywest, Sunridge Village and then there is the new Kamma Crossing shopping Centre which is going into a new phase of development.
“It is also a very green and leafy area and the suburbs are all well-maintained. It is so green because this was all once farm land with huge plots. The area where Lorraine is today used to be known as Nooitgedacht Farm,” he said.
Rautenbach said after the opening of Lorraine Primary School in the early 1950’s the area grew from 810 residents in 1960 to 1898 residents in 1970.
“It then increased to 4920 residents in 1980 and today we have in the region of 22,000 residents in Ward 8, which comprises of Lorraine, Lorraine Manor, Kamma Park, Kamma Heights, Kamma Ridge, Kragga Kamma Park, Ben Kamma, Goldwater, Beverley Grove, Pine Grove, Vikingvale and part of Kabega,” he said.
One of the major drawcards for those living in Port Elizabeth's western suburbs are its excellent schools. In Westering there is Westering Primary and Westering High School while Framesby has the respected Framesby High School. Sunridge Park Primary, Lorraine Primary, Kabega Park and Rowallan Park Primary are among the popular choices for junior education institutions in the western surburbs. The green leafy surburbs and relatively safe area to raise children make the western surburbs a top choice for parents. Easy access to major routes, highways and public facilities like halls, libraries and sports fields also add to the attractiveness of the western suburbs as an area.
Size: 90,000m² mall with two-storeys which will house more than 250 stores
Construction period: 24 months
Firsts for the province: New stores including Ster-Kinekor IMAX, Dion Wired, Dune and Cinnabon
Employment: 2500 permanent jobs at its various stores.
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.