The property market slump has also taken the shine off the host of multimillion-rand golf estate developments on the Garden Route, a sector which less than 10 years ago was still being heralded as a major economic driver for the region.
This year alone the golf estates of Pinnacle Point in Mossel Bay and Le Grande in George have been on the receiving end of insolvency rulings, while property advertising suggests other Garden Route golf estates are under pressure.
Last week there were 26 properties for sale at the Oubaai golf estate outside George, with stands from R1 million to luxury houses listed for R10m up for grabs.
Pinnacle Point had 15 properties for sale, including a R14m luxury house, 53 properties were listed at Pezula in Knysna while 46 properties were on sale at Kingswood in George.
In Plettenberg Bay, two massive golf estate developments, Hangklip and Roodefontein, have been put on hold despite winning approval from the provincial government and Bitou municipality before 2009.
Environmentalists have long decried the proliferation of golf estates along the Garden Route, describing them as “water-guzzling” developments in a drought prone region which also require the eradication of swathes of indigenous fynbos.
When they first became the rage on the Garden Routein the 1990s and early 2000s, Cape Nature’s opposition attracted the attention of then Western Cape Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Tasneem Essop. She initiated an investigation into their sustainability in order to formulate a provincial policy guideline.
By the time the study was done in 2004/05, the Garden Route already had 22 golf courses and a substantial number in the pipeline.
Although the draft findings suggested a moratorium on golf estates as they were “unlikely to be sustainable”, the final report did not go so far as to recommend the moratorium.
Essop at that time said the claims of tourism and job creation benefits needed to be properly assessed.
She predicted that the negative impact on natural resources, especially limited water supplies, might well outweigh the benefits of golf resorts.
Chas Everitt estate agent Laraine Gee in George says the economic crunch has substantially harmed the property industry and golf estates in particular.