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Paarl, Drakenstein Municipality, Western Cape, South Africa
An EcoVillage designed by the FairValley Association members at the heart of the Cape Wineland

Wednesday, April 1, 2009



No words will describe the high hopes and the heartbreaking disappointments that the members of the Fair Valley Farm Workers’ Association experienced since 1997, when they acquired the 18 hectare farmland near Paarl.

Those who are familiar with the story and followed the events during these 12 years must appreciate the importance of this resolution. The Fairvalley land was until yesterday outside of the Drakenstein Municipal boundaries that allowed urban development of any kind. While acquiring the land, the Fairview farm workers were hoping that in a few years they will be able to realize a genuine empowerment by a substantial ownership over their own homes and properties. It started with ownership on land, but apparently this was not enough. The land zoned agriculture and any kind of development to allow for the 59 original families to settle down was declined by the authorities. One of the main arguments was the Urban Edge. So even if the farmland is no longer viable for agriculture, as it really is; and even if so many people promised so many promises; and even when the Fair Valley Association sighed a JV agreement with Kagiso Urban Management, of the Kagiso Trust Investment’s Property group, which finally introduced the required resources for a proper development on the land, - the main obstacle remained the Urban Edge boundaries. The FairValley land was left outside...

During the last few months, the FairValley EcoVillage got its framework shaped. The Urban Design Framework was presented and broadly accepted by the officials and the politicians. It all just simply makes sense due to the thorough work done by the professional team. Planners love it because it demonstrates the highest possible urban design standarts; politicians love it because it paves the way for thousands of South Africans to have a home of their own. The combination of sustainability and business viability alongside with solid proven design solutions for infrastructure and top-structure is utmost convincing.

Since the council passed a resolution to amend the Urban Edge in December 13th 2007 already, the Drakenstein municipality led a constant dialog with Province regarding this matter. In August 2008 the Province’s officials sent their comments, widely objecting every little bit of the expansion.

In November 3rd 2008, Deputy Mayor Councillor W Nothnagel met with Minister P Uys. This meeting paved the way for yesterday’s resolution as it was made clear that a decision regarding delineation of the Urban Edge lies with the Local Council. It was also made clear that council had the options to - reaffirm its decision from December 2007; to align it with the Province’s officials’ comments; or to try again finding a common ground with them.

Finally, Council has resolved yesterday to reaffirm its decision from 2007 and to accept the amended Urban Edge [version number 4] as its final edge. This embraces FairValley into the Urban pattern of Drakenstein and begins a new chapter in the life of the Fair Valley members.

The professional team will soon reconvene and start working on acquiring the development rights on the land, including rezoning from agriculture to mixed-use urban development.
Please stay with us. We shall keep you posted on our progress and hopefully one of these days invite you to our homes on FairValley EcoVillage.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The FairValley EcoVillage team, accompanied by the Drakenstein Municipality officials, met for the first time with Western Province top officials

Tommy Fortuin, Chairperson of the Fair Valley Farm Workers Association and Angeline Swarts, the Vice Chairperson said after the meeting: “It is the first time after almost twelve years that we can see the light. We have the best people in the Province and in our local Council standing behind us now, and the best professional team possible. We would like to thank all of them and our partners in Kagiso Urban Management for making it happen.”

Tuesday, just after lunch time, the ride from Fairview to the big-city is quite pleasant. No traffic jams, the sky is clear, the views of the appearing CBD, Table Mountain, the harbour and the bay, are magnificent, even after million times. The closed windows still keep us protected from the afternoon annoying breeze, until we shall embark from the good old Camry of mine onto Long Street, corner of Dorp. Tommy is dressed up with a fancy suit and tie, Angeline looks like an experienced business woman, but we cannot conceal our excitement under these facades. It is the first time we are going to meet such high level of officials in the Province. We are not sure what to expect. So many stories we have heard over the years. Tommy has been there from the beginning. He was literally the person who raised his hand at the auction, to buy the FairValley land, back in 1997. I can only imagine what is going on in his mind, while stepping into the frightening government building on Dorp number 1. There was not much said on the way here, besides the warm feelings we realized we all share towards our colleagues on the professional team, who became friends, who were gladly agreed to join us to this important meeting and present their bit of the puzzle.
Claus (Mischker, of Headland Planners www.headland.co.za) is already waiting for us outside, afraid that we’re going to miss the entrance or get lost in the big city. Claus is the facilitator of this meeting and felt responsible for us. He has always a smile on his face and endless amount of patience. Inside we meet Judy (Ferdenando, of Lower Piers Road Property Consultants CC), Henri (Comrie, of Comriewilkinson urban designers, http://www.comwilk.co.za/) and Mario (Filippi, of Lyners Engineering, www.lyners.co.za). I didn’t have to ask them twice – they all gladly came to help. I have a sense that they have a special bond to FairValley. These people are so busy. They are involved in so many projects. They actually make their living out of their time and talent. I don’t know many, of their calibre, who would leave everything and report, as they do. This is in a nutshell, what Angeline, Tommy and I spoke about on the way here. Now it was so good to see them. We are not alone.
A government lift brings us straight up to the heart of the Spatial Planning Department on the 1st floor. The lift is a bit crowded before we were spit out from it, as we carry our laptops, projector, files and even our own electrical extension cord that I brought just-in-case. We cannot allow any fault today. God forbid we can’t use the projector because there is not a plug close enough....strange thoughts I had before we left home.
Chris (Rabie, Director of the Western Province Spatial Planning Directorate) is already waiting for us, 15 minutes before the time, in his office, chatting with a lady that I guessed was Tanya (De Waal, planner at the SPD). I only knew both of them by reputation. I also knew that Tanya was the one who wrote the comments on the amended Drakenstein Urban Edge on behalf of the Province. But as I mentioned, I have never met them before and had no idea what to expect. I saw Tommy and Angeline sticking close to me and was grateful to Chris for coming forward, hand his hand to us to introduce himself with a genuine warm welcoming. Like a real host. What an immediate relief I felt. One can see and feel, right there, in the first moment, his confidence, his years of experience along with mature confidence, as if saying to us – ‘please come-in, relax and feel yourselves at home’. And God, did we need that! He guided us to the boardroom, as we needed couple of minutes to organize our presentation. It was comforting to find a projector on the huge meeting table, already connected and aimed to a screen on the wall – apparently we are not the first and probably not the last here...

When we are all ready, we walked back to Chris’ office, only to see him and Tanya chatting now also with David (Delaney, head of Planning & Economic Development Department of the Drakenstein Municipality) and Henk (Strijdom, head of Spatial Planning, at the planning services of Drakenstein Municipality www.drakenstein.gov.za). Can’t even describe what a relief this was to see the two of them there. Surrounded by the best professionals, supported by wonderful people like David and Henk, and been welcomed so nicely by Chris and Tanya, I felt almost like the meeting is not as important any more. We came to see the people, touch them, let them see that we are real as well and maybe just to begin a dialog; a bond perhaps? The same bond we all have with this project? The meeting began with a very positive tone.
I began with my presentation. The background – again the same 10 years that went by, when I arrived in 2007, which are turning soon, in 2009, to 12 years of expectations and disappointments. I shall not blame anyone for been sceptic, or pessimistic about FairValley. Nor anyone who might have the feeling that the FairValley farm workers had been unfairly treated during those years. Misused? Manipulated? They were led to believe and hope that one day they can build their houses on their land. Land Affairs granted them with government money and Charles (Back, owners of Fairview) topped it up from his side, so they can buy the FairValley land and start their own empowerment wine business. The Fairvalley Wine label did so well and became a real success story (www.fairview.co.za). In 2009, they will still be waiting though for the other dream to come true.
But as Winston (Churchill, the late prime minister of the UK) used to say – “if you want your dream to come true – you must wake up”! So we woke up. We made another plan; we had proven it to be financially viable, leaning against solid planning principles, with the highest possible urban design standards. We joined forces with the strongest social-entrepreneurship alliance possible, in the form of KAGISO URBAN MANAGEMENT (www.kum.co.za; www.kagiso.com), with Jerry (Mabena), John (Spiropoulos), Graeme (Reid) and Leila (McKenna, all executive directors of KUM and the driving force behind it), strongly supporting us from Johannesburg. We worked hard with the best team and we produced a new hope for our people.

Now, while repeating the story to this distinguished audience, I could sense the seriousness and the empathy around the table. From the background I moved on into the description of the decision making process, how we were introduced to the eco-friendly and energy efficient values and technologies, how we found out about sustainable building methods and eventually embraced the Holistic EcoVillage Approach for FairValley.
At that stage, I was happy to see that Ayub (Mohammed), a person not only responsible for environmental and heritage issues amongst others, but also passionate about them, joined the meeting and contributed a lot of his own to the constructive discussion a bit later. We have found a lot in common in regard with the way sustainable developments are going.
I moved on and briefly explained the configuration of the partnership between KAGISO URBAN MANAGEMENT and THE FAIR VALLEY FARM WORKERS ASSOCIATION, which is subject to increasing curiosity and interest from a wide range of academic, business, media and governmental establishments. Just for the province’s officials to see how this mechanism of social-entrepreneurship partnership works in reality. The format is based on 3 “legs” – the social-economic empowerment - by ownership of properties; the financial/business viability – without business logic, the development cannot takes-off; and holistic, eco-friendly and energy efficiency - in order to make it a sustainable development.
Claus followed with a brilliant analysis of the area, focusing mainly on the Paarl-Klapmuts Urban Corridor. Lots of fallow land; infertile soil, unsuitable for farming; scattered small-holdings; chicken broilers as the only significant farming activity; and a traces of light industries, mainly adjoined to the two urban nodes of these towns.
Henri gave then his magnificent Urban Design Framework presentation, the design that granted him and his team with many compliments. He took the participants through the entire design process, which systematically rose from the nature and the characteristics of the FairValley land. It really looks like this design grew up from the land. As if it has been there forever; like a sculpture, who only carves out the statue that had always been inside the stone. Impressive indeed. (You can watch the slide show on the right hand of the blog).

Mario rapped up our presentation with his Bulk Services and Infrastructure piece. Don’t underestimate Mario. He’s not an ordinary typical engineer, even if one can be mistaken about that from first sight. He has been with FairValley a long time. In 2006 Lyners did a bulk services study there – pro-bono - Just trying to help the Association to move the dream forward. Mario was there as the engineer. To show you that the services issue was always there. It did not pop-up now at the meeting with the Province. Mario took us in the past year through a very diligent voyage and discovered for us ways to stay within all our parameters and still be feasible. He studied recycling water systems, eco-friendly sewerage treatment package plants, renewable energy methods and on and on and on. We reached an understanding with Drakenstein and Stellenbosch Municipalities, regard water and electricity supply and the sewerage treatment principles. I am sure he also learnt and gained a lot and what can be better than a mutually beneficial interaction between parties?
One thing is sure – when we get there with the formal applications, Claus, Henri and Mario and their devoted teams in the offices, will be 100% ready for the challenges.
Now a discussion prevails. Chris is making sure that we notice the time – half of it gone just by our presentation. Not as bad, I think to myself, since we really wanted them to listen to us and we achieved that. David starts, makes his statement on behalf of Drakenstein. We are all overwhelmed with his, Henk’s and (another dear friend who didn’t join them today) Ashley’s (Roelf) support. David is very clear: “Drakenstein would like to develop the corridor between Paarl and Klapmuts. We were hesitant at first, but when we saw the high standards of the FairValley team and the Urban Design Framework that they produced, we think that this could lead the design framework and the planning standards for the entire corridor. Drakenstein has the prerogative to resolve its Urban Edge boundaries, but would prefer to reach an understanding with the Province. A council resolution is expected within the next two months”. I am amazed and grateful for his calmness, self confidence and persistence. Things that David says in private, around the coffee table, he will repeat around his boardroom table at the municipality and will restate them loud and clear around the Province’s table. It is really a wonderful virtue which gains him a lot of respect from all over. I feel fortunate for having him on our side.
Tanya then is sharing her thoughts with us. There is a dilemma indeed, she’s quite right. It is not a straight forward situation. She feels bad for the farm workers, as the location of FairValley is not ideal for development from her point of view. Years had gone by, since the “PR exercise” that was presumingly done on them. Right or wrong, it’s not for us to judge 12 years later. We all agree that this is the situation, this is the reality, these are the facts and that the way to handle it is to go forward. Tanya might be right from a “pure” professional perspective - if there is such thing at all. “The extension of the urban edge west of Simonsvlei cannot be supported as it does not lend itself to the principles of containment. It is recommended that options for densification be explored within the existing ‘consultant – demarcated’ urban edge”, she wrote in her report and reiterated it in the meeting. We do not agree with her, but we listened carefully. These are the arguments that we need to deal with, and we shall. We see a great urban planning opportunity lying in the Paarl-Klapmuts corridor. It is “screaming” – development! Smart, cautious, sensitive and sensible, but development. Not to leave it to the market forces to determine its characteristics in time to come – rather initiate, set the standards, put the framework, so it would be a viable urban corridor. This would be FairValley contribution back to the community. I won’t elaborate on this now though, but maybe on another occasion.

Chris Rabie concluded his part: “We are not against development, but we have concerns about bulk services in the area, the visual impact of the development and its environmental implications, especially because it is located in the heart of the Wineland. Our ‘GOLD’ is not hidden under the ground,” he emphasized the importance of the natural scenic treasures of the Cape Wineland. ”We do expect not less than a due process to meet all the legal requirements”.

I had the impression that he was kind and gentle by leaving in our hands the option – if we get it right, perfectly right, they will support. Fair enough. And we’ll get it right, I can assure you that.

So these are my final words to sum up the meeting with Province, the FairValley story and the story of the people behind FairValley: “It was a serious and mutually respectful professional discussion for which we are grateful. One cannot expect more in the first meeting. Everybody listened carefully to the others’ concerns and ideas, which is the biggest achievement. We shall go forward with Drakenstein to motivate and resolve the urban edge issue, so we can provide our beneficiaries what they deserve, after almost 12 years of disappointments. We are overwhelmed by the Drakenstein’s massive support and thankful for that. We do not expect any concessions on the due process, just open minds and hearts which I am confident we have acquired here today”. Ori (Ilan, Kagiso Urban Management Western Cape Projects manager).

Monday, October 6, 2008

FairValley EcoVillage - Update October 2008

A few great news and awesome developments occurred during the past few months since March this year that we are delighted to share with our loyal supporters as follows:

A. A Joint Venture letter of agreement was signed on May 16th 2008, between the Fair Valley Farm Workers Association and Kagiso Urban Management (www.kum.co.za) to acquire development rights on the FairValley land and to finally develop it. This agreement secures the Association’s main objective - houses to its beneficiaries, when the rights will be approved by the authorities. In order to implement this agreement, the partners had established the FairValley Development Co. (Pty) Ltd – The FV DevCo.

B. The FV DevCo. appointed professional team who was assigned to conduct a detailed feasibility study inclusive of – Urban Design Framework; Detailed infrastructure and bulk services study and cost estimate; initial Environmental Assessment; initial eco-friendly and energy efficiency elements to be incorporated into the development; market research; and quantity surveying to ensure financial feasibility. This work - defined as phase I was concluded in the end of September 2008.

C. The Drakenstein Municipality leadership has already expressed its support and is standing behind the FairValley EcoVillage development. The professional teams are meeting on a regular basis, already achieved, prior even to the official procedures, a consensus over the main principals of the Urban Design and the bulk services framework plan.

D. The inclusion of the FairValley land within the Municipal Urban Edge, still to remain a challenge for the 2 teams. The FV DevCo. team and the Drakenstein planning team are in agreement that the strip between South Paarl and Klapmuts provide a unique opportunity which contains a great potential as a natural Urban Corridor to be properly designed and developed; and that the FairValley EcoVillage urban design framework can be used to set the highest possible urban design standards for the whole corridor. Local Council is elaborating this matter with Province’s officials, motivating the amendment of its Urban Edge based on these arguments.
Time frame to conclude the Urban Edge issue with Province, according to council officials, is estimated to be before the end of November 2008.

Congratulations to our main team players for successfully concluded PHASE I

Jerry Mabena from Kagiso Property Holdings;
John Spiropoulos, Leila McKenna and Graeme Reid from Kagiso Urban Management;
Tommy Fortuin, Chairperson and Angelene Swart, Vice Chairperson of the Fair Valley Association;
Ori Ilan – project manager; (http://www.ilaninnovativedevelopments.blogspot.com/)
Mike Schroeder, architect – head of the design team;
Henri Comrie – Comriewilkinson Urban Designers; Mario Filippi – Lyners Engineering Services; Claus Mischker – Headland Town Planners;
Judy Ferdenando – special consultant to the FV Association;

Special thanks to the Drakenstein officials who are working closely with us:

Leon Coetzee, David Delaney; Deon Du Plessis; Henk G Strijdom; Ashley Roelf; Jimmy Knagg and Susan Hendricks;

And to the Madam Mayor, Charmaine Manuel, along with a group of dedicated Councillors:

Arthob Petersen; Sharon davids; Marthinus Le Hoe; and Collin Van Der Westheizen

Also big thanks for their contribution to:

Bianca Gilfillan; Ian Manchip; Mike Tremeer; Tony Harris; Etienne Britz; Liani van der Westhuizen; Malcolm Worby and David Hellig.

And a very special gratitude to a very special man – Charles Back, whose unlimited energy, long term vision and massive support brought us here and eventually will bring us to realize this dream.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Initial Viability Study Completed on Schedule

The FairValley EcoVillage professional team, along with the intensive support of the Fair valley Association Executive Committee, concluded in the end of February 2008, as planned, its initial pre-feasibility study. The positive conclusions enable the Fair Valley Association to approach now potential strategic partners and to negotiate financial support to develop the land.

The process started November 2007 with appointments made by the Association with the support of Charles Back. Ori Ilan appointed project manager, joining Judy Ferdenando, who was already working with the members on developing their leadership skills. Soon after three other appointments made – Mike Schroeder, architect-planner appointed as head planner; Mario Filippi, civil engineer of Lyners Engineering and David Hellig, town planner-land surveyor of David Hellig & Abrahams. The last team member to join in January 2008 was Bianca Gilfillan, environmental consultant of Enviro Dinamik. Legal advice is been given by Fairview’s attorney Anton Melck of Cluver & Markotter.

The team since met on a regular basis looking at a number of major key issues, which may determine the viability of the EcoVillage –

Optional plans – Densities, plot sizes, usages, layouts, houses’ types and models; building materials, passive solar design; costs estimates and initial feasibility.
Civil engineering services – Water supply, sewage treatment, fresh, grey and black water-wise methods, renewable and traditional energy sources, costs estimates and initial feasibility.
Environmental assessment
Town planning statutory procedures and requirements.
Market demand analysis and initial marketing plan.
Management and community development aspects for the long run.

Not without some challenges ahead, the team is convinced that the project is viable and that a further progress to the next level of conducting a thorough feasibility study is worthwhile.

These are very good news for the Fair Valley Association beneficiaries, even though the stage of planning, from now until plans are complete, approved and ready for implementation, will extend over the two coming years.

There are two concrete offers on the table now, which the Association must look at and make a decision within the next couple of weeks. Once agreement will be signed, all steam ahead with the planning process!

The Fair Valley Association wish to thank the professional team, for their dedication and contribution, Charles Back for his overwhelming support and to the councilors and the officials of the Drakenstein Municipality for their commitment and assistance. Also thanks to the Sustainability Institute in Lydoch, for the good advice and precious information, to the Stellenbosch University Business School and all the other wonderful people who took the time and made the effort to share their knowledge with us during the passed few months.

We shall keep you posted soon.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Historical visit by Senior Drakenstein Municipality Delegation

A delegation of senior councilors visited Fairview today to learn about the FairValley EcoVillage–
Councilor - Ms. Sharon Davids - Infrastructure portfolio & deputy Rural Development portfolio
Councilor - Mr. Arthob Petersen - Housing portfolio
Councilor – Mr. Martinus Le Hoe - Rural Development portfolio
Official - Mr. David Delaney - Planning & Economic Development

Mr. Petersen while concluding the meeting said: “I am not in a position to say Yay or Nay, but I can’t see a reason why we should not support this pioneering well presented project”.

The dignitaries met with Mr. Charles Back, the members of the executive committee of the Fair Valley Association and the project’s professional team. Mr. Back thanked the guests for taking the time and making the effort to visit Fairview and FairValley. He expressed his vision about genuinely empower the Fairview farm workers, by allowing them the opportunity to own their own homes and properties, regardless of their employment. “This is a voluntary process. No one is forced under any circumstances to leave the farm. Those who chose not to move to FairValley are most welcome to stay on the farm”, he said.

A presentation was given to the guests, by Ori Ilan, covering the main issues relating to the FairValley EcoVillage - background of the FVA, the acquiring of the land in 1997, the 11 years that had gone by without real outcome and the challenges that this project is still facing today. Ori emphasized the moral obligation to compensate the beneficiaries for the lost time, while their rights to own their own home on their own land were denied from them for so many reasons.

Ori also described the process of the last 4 months, through which the leaders of the association, along with a small team of professionals, reconstructed the development strategy into the current EcoVillage concept. He explained the holistic rationale and the advantages of the Eco-approach, which put together as a one whole - environmental benefits, sustainable physical development, community building and business/employment opportunities.

The Association pleaded the Municipality leaders to put the FairValley EcoVillage on the top of its priority list, to support the rezoning of the land and the installation of the Eco-friendly bulk services. The municipality is also expected to partner with the community building efforts and to provide its municipal services in due time.

Mr. Petersen concluded on behalf of the guests. He extended the Mayor’s apology for not been able to attend the meeting in the last moment. He praised the plans, emphasized the importance of farmers coming forward and become pro active in initiating housing projects for their farm workers. He said that out of 32,000 families waiting for houses within the Drakenstein Municipality boundaries, the farm workers are by far the most vulnerable sector being entirely dependent on the farms’ owners. He also said that 5,000 families are of professionals who fit exactly to the FairValley’s target market. He expressed his positive feelings about the FairValley EcoVillage and suggested that soon he will schedule a presentation of the project for the Mayoral Executive Committee. Mr. Petersen thanked the FVA committee members and Mr. Back for the invitation and the hospitality.

The meeting ended up at the "Goatshed" for lunch, where the guests and the FVA committee members had a chance to chat around the table and get to know each other better. Marlene Van der Berg discovered that she and councilor Sharon Davids are family – real blood line takes them to the same all-mighty-grandfather who had 12 children. Attie Adams, who happens to be related to the same grandfather, reunited with his teacher, councilor Petersen. The engineers, Neil Lyners and Mario Filippi had a chance to discuss some technical details with David Delaney and Ori Ilan. David assured the team that his department will process everything that in their hands – as fast as possible. There was a serious discussion about rugby at the Boland, led by the experienced councilor Petersen, who was trying to satisfy Ori’s fresh curiosity in the subject.

Unique Real-Life Experience for Overseas USB Students in Fairvalley

The Stellenbosch University Business School (USB), hosted last month (16-26 January 2008) 16 students from the FHDW – University of Applied Sciences in Germany, for their overseas training. In conjunction with Fairview Wine & Cheese Estate and the Fair Valley Association, made of Fairview’s workers, the USB offered the students a uniquely exceptional real-life experience. 5 out of their 7 weekdays spent in Cape Town, the students worked on their academic assignments in Fairview.
The task for them was to address 4 major issues in regard with the FairValley EcoVillage that the Fair Valley Association is busy planning for its beneficiaries these days. The 4 teams presented their papers on the following 4 subjects –

· Community Organization – Community organization is aimed to manage and maintain the eco-lifestyle once the Village is been inhabited. The team recommended that a Property Owners Association is to be formed and suggested two models over two stages of the development – outsourcing all logistical matters to an outside expert entity and manages directly only the community affairs. With time, the Property Owners Association will acquire the skills from the management company to run the logistics as well. It became apparent that the Fair Valley Association must take and pro-active approach toward this matter, as the POA must be up and running prior to any marketing of properties begins. Buyers must know in advance what they are buying-in to, which means constitution must be in place as integral part of the deed of sale.
· Business Development – Businesses are integral part of the EcoVillage lifestyle, as it requires cutting off commuting lines – the more people work from home, or from their close vicinity, the less travel it is. Therefore the team worked on ways to encourage future residents to start their own enterprises. The team suggested an holistic approach comprised of 3 pillars – ecological/social/economical and built a model for a comprehensive support system for the Village to establish by bringing a few forces together – financial institutions; big corporations (using mainly but not only their BBBEE resources evolve from the Enterprise Development element on their “scorecard”); USB with more academic support from students and staff, and governmental agencies from three tiers of government. The team also recommended selecting an overall theme for the businesses in the Village to create specialty and strength. The theme suggested is all-around Eco-Lifestyle, health, organic food, natural products, etc.
· Business model – This team’s task was to present 2 business models for the FVA to chose. They were given working assumptions for their calculations, so that the 2 models can be compared. One model is when the FVA develops the land on its own and the other option is that the FVA does it in partnership – a joint venture. The results show clearly that the first option is much better financially for the FVA, but nevertheless requires much higher financial risks, doubtfully should be taken. The work also shows that by developing first hand, the FVA can generate enough funds for their own beneficiaries’ houses based only on the residential component of the development. In this case the commercial segment is a financial bonus. At the JV option the FVA gets “only” its houses out of the deal.
· Marketing Plan – The marketing team was assigned to present two alternate marketing models for all the properties in the FairValley EcoVillage. Since the financial requirements are to leverage the land and the future properties towards the FVA beneficiaries’ houses, the target market for the residential dwellings selected from the emerging SA middle class 30+ years old young families of professionals, who can afford the price range of R500k-R800k per house. The team recommended the “direct marketing” approach of which big companies in the region will be offered plots and houses for their employees of this target group. The team indicated that this would be much better cost/benefit strategy compare to the “open market” model. As for the commercial properties, the team recommended similar approach, identifying enterprises which have some relations to the business themes of the EcoVillage, under the slogan – “Friendly Business Environment for Environmentally Friendly Businesses”. The team emphasized the benefits for businesses, like centrality, accessibility and exposure of the site. Benefits for home owners are - healthy lifestyle, affordability, and relatively low running-costs of the ecological friendly houses.

The students who participated in the programme were - Andreas Binder, Yvonne Börner, Peter Donners, Anika Hülsmann, Sevgi Kabukcu, Alexander Karmann, Dustin Sebastian Kersberg, Alexandra Landen, Andreas Pastor, Anna Eva Rosenthal, Johannes Schachten, Georg Schmickler, Marius Schmitz-Knierim, Esther Siegmund, Thomas vor der Sielhorst and Daniel Willms.

Tony Harris and Ori Ilan conducted the programme on behalf of USB, Fairview & FVA.

Many thanks to Charmaine Kapp – the USB International Office Administrator, and special thanks to Hennie Olivier - Head of International Programs at USB for their outstanding support.

Many thanks to Charles Back, the Fairview and the Goatshed staff, for accommodating the programme, for the warm hospitality, the great food, the wine & cheese tasting, the internet facilities, the superb dinner and the fantastic environment offered to the students for this amazing learning experience.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Highlights from the planning team meeting 7.1.2008

The objective of this session was to brainstorm the initial planning issues, so the planners can begin narrowing options and that we all start speaking in common terms as follows: The materials prepared were presented for discussion purposes.

The session followed the previous one held at the Green Building, Westlake in which the team brainstormed alternative technologies – water supply, drainage, treatment and recycling of waste water, renewable energy and carbon-credit trading, energy and water efficiency / saving, collection, recycling and disposal of solid waste, and selection of suitable equipment, fittings, materials and road construction. This information was used in preparation of preliminary site layout for discussion.

Target Market

We are all in agreement to target middle class 30+ young families, professionals on they way up in their careers, own at least one car and earn at least R16,000 a months per household. (– quickly calculated as repayment of bond @14 %.). It was also noted that the family might have more than one breadwinner, and an average of two children and two adults.
This definition requires a change in our initial category of “Gap Housing” to “Gap+”. The target house Selling Price range will be app. R450,000 to R800,000.

Ecological aspects / criteria suggested for house design

This is just to bring us all to a better understanding of what EcoVillage means in concrete terms.

Passive Solar – Orientation, ventilation, insulation & energy storage in thermal mass of house.
Renewable Energy – Solar water heating, solar/wind electricity generation, bio-gas digester;.
Recycling – “Black” water (sewage); “gray” water (waste water from showers, kitchen, washing machine, basins recycled to flush toilets and irrigation); rain-water harvesting; solid waste.
Building materials’ selection – Preferably local materials to avoid distant transport; least embodied energy materials; use of least toxic content of materials. These should be from renewable sources and create least waste and pollution during construction. Materials also be suitable to local skills, training and job creation, contracting.
Appliances – Energy saving (home appliances, light bulbs etc.); water wise adjustments.
Others – Natural swimming pools; water saving / indigenous vegetation.

Community Organization

It is utmost important for the planners to take into consideration the ways the EcoVillage will be managed when it’s completed. The maintenance, operation and renewal of infrastructure, services, public open space, safety and security needs are important part of development business plan.

Several issues need to be addressed –

Rules and regulations – eventually this must become the constitution of the Home Owners Association of the entire Village. It must include planning and building guidelines, rates and duties, property ownership transactions, life style issues etc. These will probably need to be attached to the title deeds of the property – conditions related to the land, and services.
Logistics & Administration – Efficient structure to allow managing of the communal properties, maintenance of the infrastructure, collecting money and representing the residents.
Enforcement – Efficient means to enforce the constitution, rules and regulations / title conditions above.

We are all in agreement to investigate different ways to handle these issues. The two major options mentioned in the meeting are - An HOA self management vs. outsourcing urban management company for an intermediate period. These will need to be done in partnership with the Drakenstein Local Authority, and could possibly look to share responsibilities as the Eco-Village becomes inhabited.

It was strongly emphasized and agreed, that any opportunity for the FVA to take upon themselves any tasks within the framework of running the Village, even if it is under the auspices of a contracted management company, must be explored (a contract with a management company should possibly look to help the HOA set of the capacity and operational mechanisms to take over those management functions which they think appropriate).

It was also suggested that the project will need to retain a portion of its income (1 %?) as a “maintenance / development fund” for the future.

Planning and Houses designs

Mike Schroeder presented his initial sketches of land use and lay-out plan of plots and a few different initial designs for houses – single and double storey, on different shapes of 250 sqm plots. It was emphasized that this is not proposals for the layout plans or house designs. Mike had used the EcoBeam/sand-bag construction technology to inform his ideas, and had been assured by Eco-Beam that the house-types presented should be able to be built within the budget. The presentations were to initiate discussions and identify questions and information required. This they did! Questions were raised included:

Density - On the lay-out issue there was an agreement to re-examine the density, without still taking any decisions until we know how the officials at the municipality feel about it and what their thoughts about the nature of this new “urban edge” area, including densities. At the moment our “wish-list” presents the maximum number of plots possible (the layout plan presented approximately 310 plots of 250 sqm each – to accommodate 80-120 sqm houses, either on one level, or two. Some terrace housing was also suggested, along with land set aside for a commercial and community centre, public open space, and an area for cultivation.
Pattern – It was also agreed / suggested to “break” / soften the grid-shape of the initial lay-out sketches, and possibly look at inner-circles model and its implications on the density/number of plots. Aspects such as the need for community activities and safety and security were also raised, and discussions about the access to and use of amenities and facilities will also be discussed further.
Commercial & Communal facilities location – Two options were discussed – locate the public center close to the entrance to the Village and create links and easy access to facilities for visitors, consumers and suppliers (and perhaps a future exposure on Route 101) vs. a central location within the residential section. Each contain trade-offs that we’ll need to examine further.
Plots – size of plots should vary. As suggested 250 sqm will be the minimum but we must consider offering a mix of different sizes. It is suggested to investigate allocating 50% of the plots – 250sqm; 30% - 300sqm; 20% - 350sqm.
Houses – a few types of houses were presented. It is too early stage to take any decisions in regard with the specific designs. It is agreed though, that since the development guidelines mention the “incremental / expanding house” concept, every design in the future must show three options – 80sqm; 100sqm; 120sqm, or similar options to provide affordable options.
Security & Safety – This is very important consideration to be taken, including elements like an entrance gate to the Village; surrounding fence; separation between vehicles and pedestrians; bicycles’ routes, community surveillance of open space, and a general ability for the community to be able to control their Eco-Village, etc.