eThekwini’s beachfront upgrade plans aims to create ‘leisure epicentre’

An artist impression of the Durban Beach Café which forms part of the City’s beachfront upgrade plans. Picture: Supplied by the eThekwini Municipality.

An artist impression of the Durban Beach Café which forms part of the City’s beachfront upgrade plans. Picture: Supplied by the eThekwini Municipality.

Published Aug 8, 2023


Durban - A R200-million investment is set to transform the Durban beachfront into a vibrant and exciting leisure epicentre.

That is the vision eThekwini Municipality has for the Golden Mile, a move that it hopes will revive the City’s key tourism asset.

The municipality announced last week that some of the leisure businesses on the promenade would close to make way for new entities.

Among the entities affected were Bike and Bean, Circus Circus restaurant and Minitown.

At least four new entertainment and leisure ventures were expected to emerge, with a total investment of R200m.

“The vision for the area is captured in the Municipality Inner City Local Area Plan which encourages developments that should promote a mix of interesting, vibrant and exciting leisure activities during the day and in the evening that will attract both residents and visitors,” said Thapelo Mmusinyane, head of the Real Estate Unit at the municipality.

The new developments include the North Beach Lifestyle restaurant.

An artist’s impression of the North Beach Lifestyle restaurant. Picture: Supplied by eThekwini Municipality.

“Its target market is all inclusive; from your early morning beach walkers, runners, cyclists to day beach-goers (locals and tourists), to those just looking for lunch, dinner and relaxation after a long day at work,” he said.

Another venture, Mmusinyane said in a statement, would be the Durban Beach Café, which aimed to be an inclusive space that captures the spirit of Durban.

Also on the cards is a development expected to emerge at the site of the historic Minitown.

The proposal is of a mixed-use development concept that includes an arts and crafts gallery fronting the main arterial, providing an exhibition space, with a satellite police station or tourist junction kiosk with a series of retail spaces that cater for beach-like activities such as skating, surfing and bike riding, and a 3-star hotel.

And finally there would be the Joint restaurant. The city said the successful bidder was still busy with the redevelopment plans and the information would be shared once these were concluded.

Mmusinyane said: “It is mandatory for the lessee to reserve 30% to locally owned SMMEs. They will also include incubation programmes after construction.

“Jobs to be created during constructions are 251 and after construction 253. The rates and taxes to be collected are estimated to be around R5m per annum.”

The head of Real Estate said the three restaurants would have a lease period of nine years and 11 months, while for the development at Minitown the lease period was 30 years.

“These are development leases where the City availed its land/properties, inviting the private sector to come and invest. The City spent in excess of R300m to upgrade the promenade which has increased the foot count, we are now making our properties available to partner with the private sector,” he said.

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said improvements to the beachfront would make the City competitive in the tourism sector; however, he added that crime had to be dealt with.

“The City should deal with crime, if you do not deal with crime any changes you make there will be meaningless, people need to know they are safe when they are in Durban.”

DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said: “We hope that all deserving businesses have been engaged regardless of their political party affiliation or race.

“The City should not have allowed this economic vacuum in the first place.”

Alan Beesley, councillor for ActionSA, said the party supported any initiatives that would improve the beachfront.

“What is important, and something that ActionSA will be holding the municipality to account on, is that the tenders for the new developments were done in a transparent and fair way.

“The ANC-led municipality has a poor track record with regards to procurement policies, and as such this area needs to be closely monitored.

“ActionSA continues to call on the municipality to prioritise and sort out its sewage crisis. It is pointless having new developments on the beachfront, but residents and tourists cannot swim in the ocean due to the high E coli levels,” he said.