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Lifestyle

Fit for families

The focus when it came to building residential estates ten or 20 years ago was security.

While security was and is as priority now, and rightly so, there’s a lot more that developers and estate managers need to focus on to cater to the demands of a modern-day South African family.

Here we unpack what families are looking for, especially in an era where we are dealing with a global pandemic.

Focus on security

Housebreaking is still the number one crime in South Africa. According to Stats SA, the number of households that experienced burglary in the five years preceding the Governance, Public Safety and Justice Survey 2019/2020, has increased from 2,1 million in 2015/16 to 2,3 million in 2019/2020.

This makes security still a high priority and entails including security features such as private access control to estates, 24-hour CCTV monitoring and a physical security presence.

While security is important for families they are now expecting so much more from modern estates, such as:

High-speed internet to meet work from home demands.

Educational facilities such as creches and schools on site or nearby.

Fitness facilities such as a gym and swimming pools that can also be used by children.

Specialist sport facilities such as tennis, squash courts and yoga studios.

On-site restaurants and shopping centres, especially when it comes to the larger estates.

Beyond the jungle gym

When people think of family friendly estates the common image that comes to mind is the jungle gym or play area. But Deon Oosthuizen, general manager of Meyersdal Nature Estate says that when it comes to the management of the estate, it is far more than ensuring there is sufficient play equipment.

He says: ‘I think that a family-friendly estate, is an estate that is managed by people who put families as a priority when doing their planning. The Board of Directors and management team need to be behind this objective for it to work. It is much more than just putting up a few jungle gyms and takes planning and thinking about what would bring the community together.’

Good communication

Oosthuizen relays the importance of putting a good communication system in place to communicate with families.

‘Good communication is also vital for any event or activity to be a success, and for the community to feel involved in what is happening in the estate. We recently implemented several communication channels to effectively communicate with residents – from broadcast WhatsApp groups, monthly email newsletters, a well-managed Facebook page and an electronic notice board.

‘The feedback from this effective and regular communication has been very positive from residents, who now feel informed and involved,’ he says.

Nature reserves

Nature reserves are a common trend for family estates. But these need constant maintenance and careful planning for families too.

Oosthuizen says that over the past few years, Meyersdal have looked at adding more elements to the reserve for families to enjoy.

‘We recently allowed vehicles to start driving in the reserve in limited numbers, and we are installing additional picnic / lookout areas on the route for people to relax and enjoy. We have also allowed fishing in the dam in the reserve,’ says Oosthuizen.

Running regular events

Oosthuizen relays the importance of having an event programme that is fully supported by the board. Budgets must be specifically allocated for this too. Careful planning, even in the time of Covid can ensure that families are entertained all year round.

‘Covid put a hold on what we had planned this year, but we have managed to do a few fun runs in the nature reserve area, and we are planning a movie night under the stars in September.’

Although it’s an American festivity, Oosthuizen says Meyersdal also gets into the Halloween spirit. ‘We organise vendors to come and sell food and drinks, and residents dress up for the occasion and participate in trick or treat festivities around the estate.

‘Last year we implemented a best dressed house and person competition, which made it quite competitive, and everyone seemed to really enjoy the event.’

He adds: ‘We are also hoping to organise a frog and scorpion finding walk, a bird walk, a mini-bike race around the estate and our annual Christmas market / carols event, which was very popular last year.

‘We also have an old school ice cream truck visit the estate once a month for “Ice Cream Sunday”, which the kids and adults all love,’ says Oosthuizen.

The modern family

Catering to a modern family in a residential estate these days involves more than just greasing down jungle gym equipment. But with careful planning, budgeting, and calling in the right experts, residential estates can cater to everyone’s needs – regardless of age.



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