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New R800m Newlands Cricket Ground precinct will focus on 'much more' than just cricket

Newlands Cricket Ground, one of the world’s most iconic, is undergoing an R800-million transformation, reshaping the urban mix-used precinct in the southern suburbs of Cape Town.

The multi-million rand development will see a brand new approach for stadium management take shape. The development of four buildings on the Six Gun Grill Newlands Cricket Ground is well underway and developers say the project will achieve something that few others have ever achieved in South Africa – making a sporting facility a financially sustainable entity, all year round.

The driving force behind the development, Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA) says, is to ensure the financial sustainability of the cricket ground and, by extension, the financial benefits that could then be channelled into the development of the sport of which the WPCA is the custodian of in the Western Province.

“For many years it became apparent that surviving on the revenue generated by match days was no longer an option and we needed to find a solution that would make a positive impact. The ground is currently only used an average of 35 days per year, but this development will see the NCG precinct being utilised all year round” Tennyson Botes, WPCA Interim CEO.

Six Gun Grill was announced as the new naming rights holder for the ground, at the end of October 2020. And whether or not you are a fan of cricket, the visual design elements of this precinct will prove to be extremely popular with the markets being targeted by developers.

“The City of Cape Town has previously approved the rezoning of Six-Gun Grill Newlands to transform it into a sustainable mixed-use sport, commercial, education and leisure-orientated precinct. In terms of these rights, the development will yield an estimated 25 000 square metres of commercially viable gross leasable area,” says Botes.

The NCG will remain a working cricket ground where the sport will continue to take centre stage. Botes added that “cricket will be a golden thread that runs through the development, but there is much more to the story than cricket.”

The mixed-use precinct will target both business professionals as tenants for the development as well as significant educational occupants of the NCG Precinct, making sure it won’t just be another place to work, but rather a creative environment that we know will strike a healthy balance between work and play. Varsity College and Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) will be occupying nearly 50% of the new NCG precinct which will also include shops and restaurants.

Pedestrian first approach

Botes added, “When the new NCG Precinct is complete, people will see how we have used the project to drive urban redevelopment in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. We are particularly proud of the transit-oriented considerations for which our close proximity to the Claremont railway line is crucial. For us, it is ‘pedestrians first’ in our design approach.”

A pedestrian footbridge over the railway line will link Main Road to Campground Road. A tree-lined walkway will also extend around the cricketing precinct, with several vantage points at which pedestrians will be able to see the field itself.

The NCG precinct’s excellent location on the public transport system will mean it is easily accessible to anyone in Cape Town, whether for employment opportunities or those attending the game.

WPCA announced in 2019 a partnership deal with Sanlam Life Insurance Limited (Sanlam), that will see the R800m investment in the new NCG Precinct being built on the old tennis courts area, at the Kelvin Grove End of the ground. Sanlam will own 51% of the investment, with WPCA 37% and Cricket South Africa (CSA) the remaining 12%.

"All stakeholders believe that great partnerships are built on bold ideas and sustainable relationships. Through the various sponsorships in sport Sanlam is of the firm belief that the benefits of this development will be felt by more than just the South African cricket fraternity."

The first phase of the development is expected to be completed in July 2021, with the second phase early in 2022.


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