Harfield Village - Colourful Trends

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

The Cape Town Southern suburb of Harfield Village sits tightly on the ‘other side’ of the railway line with its own train station, and bears much resemblance to any number of Chelsea ‘like’ villages.

Travelling down the side streets off the numbered avenues becomes a trip down memory lane when British place names like Stafford, Sussex, Hamstead, York, Norfolk, and Lancaster pop up everywhere. Its central location next to Claremont places it within close proximity to Cavendish Square, Newlands rugby and cricket stadiums, a number of brilliant schools, and the University of Cape Town, all within fifteen minutes from the City.

This colourful village with a trendsetters’ reputation is also paradise to an unconventional and free spirited kind of resident, mostly of the bohemian and green kind. As a result, this dense little suburb with narrow streets and lanes has developed into a haven for real estate owners, young and old who understand the true meaning of urban gardening and open public spaces. Following its humble beginnings during old colonial times and a history of forced removals resulting from the bygone Group Areas Act, it has become the pride of many home owners smitten with the Edwardian and Victorian styles of architecture commonly found here.

Over time, invaluable effort has gone into the protection of the special heritage value of this village that has received recognized status from the City. Since its designation as a ‘special area’ in 2002, the city has produced a set of design guidelines to be met. The special preservation of ‘Harfield's human-scale interactions between street and front door, threatened by high walls and monolithic garages’, has staved off unwanted changes to this historic area.

Today the village has a rich community spirit where the actions of residents and ratepayers associations take on real meaning. Because of its suppressed past, this suburb now boasts a mixture of residents from different social, racial and religious backgrounds. The area’s annual Carnival event is said to combine and sustain the unique character of the village, where property owners and residents continue to build on the village’s community spirit.

A number of improvements, resulting from the efforts of enthusiastic property owners who through lengthy processes of applying for council permission and funding, has significantly impacted on communal areas. The recent ‘switching on’ of the local park lights where a community vegetable garden is soon to be seen, as well as the long line of shrubs planted next to the railway line by a resident and her gardener, is nothing short of sheer determination and commitment of locals.

When it comes to investing here, although the number of property sales has dwindled since 2004, average prices have shown continued growth with highest sale prices recorded this year. While in 2004 the number of freehold property sales stood at 148, and 48 sectional share, has dropped to 76 freehold and 10 sectional share last year, average prices of properties registered at the deeds office have more than doubled.

With only a 16% market stock of sectional share properties, average freehold prices of R695 000 have increased to R1.3m last year, and to R1.4m for the past three months. Lightstone shows that residents move here to stay for 11 years and more, with 39% of those falling within the Stable Ownership category, and 32% in the Recent Sellers category. Property for rent here is a much sought after commodity, resulting from its central location, train station, compact designs and rich cultural heritage.

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