Municipalities urged to improve services to township, rural malls

Township and rural malls present growth opportunities
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Property developers are urging municipalities to improve service provisions for retail malls in both township and rural areas, to reduce business costs.

Property experts, who believe there’s still room for property development growth in these markets, caution that the expense of construction and the prevailing high inflation and interest rates might dissuade potential investors for the time being.

They say these outlets have significantly transformed communities, countering spatial inequalities stemming from apartheid-era practices.

McCormick Property Developers, specialising in retail outlets within rural areas and townships, says such developments have made a significant impact in most communities.

McCormick Property Developers’ Jason McCormick says, “I love the rural area a lot more than the township because you move the needle for communities significantly when you’re developing retail in these rural areas, places where people previously had to spend R50/R100 to get into urban centres. You really are fundamentally changing the lives of these communities by bringing services to them.”

As with urban centres, rural and township malls were hit hard during the COVID lockdown, but quickly sprung back into action soon after lockdown levels were relaxed.

Vuyiswa Ramokgopa, Chair of the National Property Practitioners Council, says these outlets play a crucial role for residents in townships and rural areas, especially those relying on social grants..

“So the fact that a lot of people in lower income communities are unemployed is not necessarily a problem because actually what it means is that they have steady and stable income from the grants that they get and a lot of these shopping centres are also where people come and get their money and make their monthly purchases and do whatever they need to do.”