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Tuesday Apr 10, 2012

Advanced eco village under construction outside PE

Construction has started on what the developers say will be SA's first completely self-sustainable farm village, near Van Staden's bridge outside Port Elizabeth.

An artist's impressions of Crossways Farm Village.

Crossways Farm Village, to be built on 560ha, will include its own state-of-the-art dairy farm, water supplies independent of the municipal system, a waste recycling centre and solar panels on all the houses, among other green innovations.

It will comprise several neighbourhoods spanning both sides of the N2 highway around the Van Staden's bridge, connected by underpasses.

Designer Dr Chris Mulder, who was responsible for Knysna's wellknown Thesen Island marina housing development, says the R3.4 billion Crossways Farm Village, comprising 733 residential units, is based on the belief that scientifically managed, productive farms represent the future in urban development.

"In the US there is growing support for the concept of rural living in an agricultural environment. The slogan 'agriculture is the new golf ' has been taken up enthusiastically by people from all walks of life who are concerned about the environment.

"There is an increasing awareness of the importance for the future of safe access to food and water and the need to live with the land in a sustainable manner," Mulder said.

The development includes industrial stands aimed at attracting cottage industries with a strong artisan and agricultural processing character, a regional training centre for agriculture, a town centre with shops and restaurants, houses and small farms.

There will also be space for stud shows and equestrian sporting events, public parks and a man-made wetland.

"Crossways will in time have its own municipality run by the homeowners' association, which will provide all essential services from road maintenance to refuse removal and sanitation," he added.

The hi-tech development will eventually be taken entirely off the electricity grid.

"We plan to do this by means of photovoltaic (PV) technology which will provide us with a total alternative energy plan.

"The implementation of this technology will be made possible by an underground fibre-optic data communication network we will be installing throughout the development.

"This alternative energy and energy-saving technology will be built into the town's infrastructure from the outset, which means all owners will enjoy these benefits as standard features," Mulder explained.

The data system will provide residents with high-speed internet without spoiling their idyllic farm views.

The development will eventually be linked to the adjacent Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve.

Wood harvested from alien vegetation cleared for the project will be used to make lamp poles for street lights, fences, street signs, benches in public parks and carports.

Water recycled from the sewerage plant will feed into the man-made wetland and bird reserve, as well as irrigate parks and public spaces.

All the industrial stands in the first phase, along with 70 percent of the residential stands in the Castle Ridge neighbourhood, have already been sold and some buyers have started building their homes.

Mulder said the first house approved for the development incorporates a number of energy and water efficiency systems, including 80 solar roof panels that will see to the full energy requirements of the house.

Excess energy will be stored in a bank of photovoltaic batteries with the capacity to provide the energy needs of the house for three days, while anything extra can be fed into the town's grid.

Rainwater harvested from the roof of the house will be stored in three 10 000-litre tanks built into the structure of the house, while a unique heat-pump system will circulate pool water through the flooring system to heat or cool the building to reduce seasonal temperature variances.

Garden Route Media

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