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Monday May 20, 2013

Prime cricket pitch being rezoned for Durban North property development

A prime piece of land in Durban North, owned by Durban High School, is being eyed for a multimillion-rand development that could see it being turned into corporate headquarters, a housing development or a retirement village.

This piece of land in Durban North, owned by Durban High School, is being rezoned for either office or residential use.

One of the more radical ideas being considered is even moving the entire school to the Durban North site.

The site, located in the affluent suburb of Athlone in Durban North and sandwiched between Gainsborough Drive and the M12, is being used as the home ground for the school's cricket squad while part of the grounds are being leased to a lawn bowling club.

According to Grayson Heath, chairman of the DHS Old Boys Club, the site, which has been zoned for recreational purposes, is being rezoned for either office or residential use.

However, Howard Buttery, the chairman of the DHS Foundation, which owns the property, said no plans had been made yet.

Heath said a local construction firm, JT Ross, approached the DHS Foundation Trust last year and was interested in buying the property and building a hospital or corporate headquarters.

He said that while nothing had been finalised, the property was being rezoned.

Heath said the DHS Old Boys Club had vacated the premises and had gone into "hibernation" until the redevelopment got under way, at which stage it would be renamed the DHS Old Boys Association.

Other tenants at the Gainsborough Drive site, the Shark and Yank and the bowls club, have agreed to vacate the premises by the end of December.

In a letter to members of the club last month, Heath said three trusts supporting the school had merged to form the DHS Foundation Trust. The objective was to develop the foundation into a R100 million war chest to ensure the long-term future of the school.

"A significant development was the original approach to the foundation trust by JT Ross, the construction company, to build either a hospital or corporate headquarters. Other ideas have included the obvious housing development and lately, a retirement complex and the most recent, the relocation of the school as the current options on the table," Heath wrote.

"The property is being rezoned and the development will be determined by which of the alternatives has the best potential for unlocking the value of the property.

"The realised value will form the nucleus of the foundation's assets and it will be the resulting dividends that will be used to enhance the school's activities and facilities," he added.

Speaking to the Daily News on Wednesday, Heath said there were many issues that needed to be ironed out before they could move ahead with any plans.

"Nobody has concrete plans until the zoning comes through. To unlock the true potential of the site, we have to have it rezoned because at the moment it is zoned purely for recreational use."

He said it was difficult to say how much they would get for the site.

"I have heard numbers such as R40m to R50m being bandied about. I am not sure how accurate it is.

"Ultimately it will depend on who wants to develop what there. And that is where the final value will come in."

Buttery said he knew nothing about any plans to develop the site.

"Nothing has been submitted and there are no plans for rezoning that I am aware of. There are discussions, but no rezoning application has been made. No decision has been made as to what needs to be done," he said.

Buttery said he was aware of the letter written by Heath, but said the foundation had not taken a decision.

"Maybe the old boys club has made an application," he said yesterday.

"The foundation which owns the property has made no decision. There are some ideas. There are some consultants working with us, but it will be some time before we decide what to do with the property."

Buttery said JT Ross, which was consulting with them on what to do with the property, had not made any recommendations.

"There is a... lot of work to do with regard to town planning. We have to find out what will be legal and what will be acceptable."

He said a decision on what to do with the site would be made at the end of the year so that builders could move on to the site by the middle of January.

Grant Smith, an executive at JT Ross, said they were helping the foundation with development plans, but that there was a long way to go before a decision was made.

"We can't do anything until they have decided what to do with the property," he said.

The chairperson of the DHS school governing body did not return calls from the Daily News yesterday.

Daily News


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