Covid-19 lockdowns and rising fuel prices have seen the concept of a 15-minute neighbourhood gaining traction locally
The “15-minute neighbourhood” concept may not be new, but since Covid-19 hit our shores it is certainly a trend that has had new life breathed into it within SA’s property market. Add to that the current spike in fuel costs and you have the perfect conditions for this lifestyle trend to grow and flourish. So says Rainmaker’s Marketing Director Stefan Botha whose award-winning agency specialises in the property sector. There is no question convenience is key and most consumers opt for lifestyle and comfort when choosing their homes. Many have also been working from home following the Covid-19 lockdowns. This alone could explain the increase over the past two years in developments across SA that offer consumers work, schools, entertainment and important shopping amenities on their doorstep.
A 15-minute neighbourhood is a residential concept in which most daily necessities can be accomplished by either walking or cycling from home, and was recently popularised by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo. The concept of living 15 minutes away from everything is thought to improve one’s quality of life which, according to Rainmaker’s National Residential Property Trends for 2021 survey, has become a number one priority for consumers since the pandemic. The concept of living locally has been trending for years but implementing this vision has brought new life to many areas in KwaZulu-Natal, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Existing research and observations from the market support the fact that, in general, people will trade size for security and location, especially if they can enjoy greater recreational benefits within close proximity to their homes.
HYPERLOCALISATION TREND IS GROWING
Botha believes that home buyers are adopting this living arrangement due to two major factors. The first is hyperlocalisation as a result of Covid-19. People appreciate the importance of community and want to avoid the hassle and escalating costs linked to transport. The recent increase in fuel costs in SA, will only strengthen the need to live, work and play within a smaller perimeter.
Take for example the newly launched Watt Club in Durban’s CBD where work, life and play are central. Consumers will save on transport costs and time by choosing to live in this prime location. Johannesburg has also recently seen HQ Sandton, a new residential development, launched in the heart of Sandton. It is set to meet the demands of consumers wanting to live and work in Africa’s richest square mile but at an affordable price. Cape Town has successfully launched Station House Sea Point with more than 15 lifestyle amenities built into the luxury development. The fact that it achieved R310m in sales in less than three months is also testament to the fact that hyperlocalisation is undoubtedly here to stay and no longer exclusive to Europe.
RENEWED INTEREST IN TOWN CENTRE
Furthermore, in places such as Durban Central and Umhlanga Ridge, town centre developers are seeing the need for people to live in well established, amenity rich areas supported by precinct management. At a recent property webinar Sandton central’s precinct manager, Elaine Jack, drew attention to the fact that the pandemic highlighted the live-work-play balance and that Sandton’s vision for development has revolved around the notion of a 15-minute neighbourhood. According to Jack, they have been encouraging the residential property market in Sandton so that people can now live near their places of work and also have quick and easy access to the places where they like to play.
This trend can be seen in a development such as HQ Sandton, which offers facilities such as a rooftop garden and bar, a restaurant and gym, while the actual development is situated in a prime location within walking distance of Sandton City shopping centre, the Gautrain and five minutes from the M1. Even in a development such as Umhlanga Arch in Durban, which has become a trendy tourist and local hub, you’ll find business people from all over Umhlanga. Its prime location, close to some of Durban’s biggest corporates, allows the development to draw in people to live, work and play.
The new 15-minute neighbourhood trend has homeowners and investors weighing up the costs of this arrangement against home price and travel costs. Based on Rainmaker’s National Residential Property Trends for 2021 survey, we can confidently say that location is a key driver for property growth. The closer people are to everything they need,
The 15-minute neighbourhood is definitely making itself at home in SA and Botha believes we’ll also see more of an uptake of this trend in 2022 and beyond from the international property scene. Locally Botha thinks we’ll see more urban and inner city renewal happening with developers such as Homii leading the charge. The Watt Club is the first of many developments that aim to reactivate underutilised spaces and appeal to buyers wishing to improve their quality of life while reducing their commute, mitigating their carbon footprint and minimising time normally spent travelling. This aligns with a growing national trend that converts retail and commercial opportunities in key business districts to satisfy the demand for a lifestyle that offers all amenities within one space.