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Monday Jul 17, 2017

Durban Beachwood golf course is sold

Durban's Beachwood Golf Course - at one stage earmarked to be included in a plan for a R6 billion development incorporating the Virginia Airport site - has finally been sold for R95m.

The sale was announced in a letter to members of the Durban Country Club - which owns the prime property - on Thursday.

Chairperson of the club Richard Pemberton said in the letter: "The purchaser of Beachwood is Beachwood Investments (Pty) Ltd, a company formed by a group of businessmen and a property developer for the purpose of the development of the property in due course when the appropriate authorities are granted."

The transfer of the property, he said, would take place as soon after October 1 as could be achieved by the clubs and conveyancers, at which stage the balance of the purchase price would be paid.

A deposit of R9.5m (nonrefundable, unless the club defaults) has been paid by the purchasers, according to the letter.

Pemberton said there were no town planning conditions attached to the sale, meaning the property was sold voetstoots (as it stood).

"Therefore the risk of obtaining the appropriate town planning authority rests entirely with the purchaser."

A condition of the sale agreement was that the club would get to lease the golf course from the purchaser for R100 a year for a period of three years.

The purchaser could cancel the lease on 90days' written notice - a precaution in case the planning approvals were granted sooner than expected.

The club, said Pemberton, would run the business of a golf course and its facilities for its own account and would maintain it and the buildings "in a reasonable condition".

"We are currently finalising a business planÂ… which willÂ… change the manner in which the club manages and runs Beachwood.

"It is the board's and management's belief that the plan would enable the club to run Beachwood more effectively for the duration of the lease."

Last year, it was reported that the decision to sell Beachwood had come after the Durban Country Club had fallen into financial difficulty and membership numbers dropped from 6 500 to 3 300.

In 2015, the club had made a rezoning application to develop 2.4 hectares of the Beachwood site for sectional title residential development, however this plan did not go ahead.

Fairway Residents Association, a group of residents who were opposed to the sale of the golf course, described the sale as disappointing.

Its spokesperson, Rob Goulden, said the group was aware of the development and "extremely disappointed". "We will be issuing a statement on it later today."

The Beachwood site was also included in the development of Virginia Airport in an unsolicited bid proposal document submitted to eThekwini Municipality by SeaWorld Investment Holdings.

In the proposal, which was made public, the Virginia Airport site was to include upmarket flats, a hotel, restaurants and other amenities, and Beachwood was to become a holiday club resort, hotel and 18-hole golf course.

However, the Durban Country Club said at the time that it had had no agreement with SeaWorld regarding the golf course.

In response to The Mercury's questions yesterday, club chief executive Pascale van Maris said there were no "real" answers at this stage as to what the development would entail.

"(This is) simply because the property is currently zoned private open space, which will require a rezoning application to cater for the contemplated development.

"At this point we have not been privy to the development plans of the purchaser."

Maris said it would probably take at least two years to achieve the rezoning as there were a "number of issues" that would need to be dealt with.

"As to when development will commence, that depends on the success of the rezoning and plan approval."

Durban Tourism head Phillip Sithole said yesterday that the sale could bring the city closer to realising its potential as a world-class destination for both work and play.

"Speaking in general terms, because I don't know what exactly is in store for the property, any development would be good for Durban, and will uplift it."

Sithole said he would like to see luxury resorts and residential properties being developed, so as to attract both South African and international visitors.

The Mercury

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