About 600 000 square metres of shopping centres, valued at billions of rands, is to be developed in the Midrand/Centurion/Modderfontein areas.

Two huge tracts of open land - the Mia land in Midrand and the AECI land in Modderfontein - have recently been released on to the market and are creating huge pockets of residential development.

The Mia land is destined to be home to about 100 000 residents soon and the Modderfontein land to about 200 000.

The Modderfontein area was excluded from development because AECI was using it to dump its waste. In 2000, because of new technology, the land was no longer required for the dumping.

The area has since boomed, starting with the construction of the Longmeadow Business Estate, and now rapidly spreading to an affluent residential development.

It is already home to more than 200 000 residents and 4 000 new residential units are planned to be built in the next five years.

However, there is a serious lack of shopping facilities in the area.

The Gautrain is expected to bring even more demand for accommodation and shopping facilities in areas around the Midrand and Centurion stations. This, together with the advent of the R15-billion Waterfall City, will result in a huge influx of people into the area.

In what has been termed a retail boom in these new areas, seven different centres are planned.

In Modderfontein, a 60 000sq m shopping and residential development, called Greenstone Hill, is under construction and is set to change the face of the north eastern suburbs of Johannesburg.

Greenstone Hill will see a 21ha shopping centre as well as 4 000 new residential units. This will be one of the largest mixed-use developments in South Africa, covering 320ha and bordering the N3. The shopping centre is being developed by the Sasol Pension Fund and completion is expected by March next year.

In Samrand, a 30 000sq m shopping centre is to be built as part of a commercial, industrial and residential node. Construction has started on the industrial section.

In Frankenwald, land owned by the University of the Witwatersrand, a 90 000sq m shopping centre is planned. However, it is opposed by the Islamic Institute because it is in direct competition with a centre which the trust intends building in Waterfall City.

The trust also claims the land was left by Sir Alfred Beit in perpetuity for educational purposes and this does not include a shopping centre. The matter will be going to court in about two months.

The Value Centre in Woodmead will be 50 000sq m and will be constructed by the Islamic Trust on vacant land close to Makro in Woodmead.

A new shopping centre will be built on land owned by the new owners of the Kyalami Race Course, Universal Property Consultants. Marketing manager Bronwyn Krummeck said the company was still buying up land around the racetrack and would be building additional roads for better access to the track.

"A new shopping centre to cater for all the new residential and golf course estates in the area is under consideration as part of a four-year plan, but plans have not yet been finalised," she said.

Zonki'Zizwe is a R6-billion, 200 000sq metre development in Midrand, close to Grand Central Airport.

Environmental impact studies are under way. Old Mutual intends to develop a large, phased mixed-use development on the property which will cover an area of approximately 275ha and include residential, commercial, recreational, retail and entertainment nodes.

Current planning also includes parking for about 16 000 cars in the form of a five storey below-ground parkade, seven double lane access points, upgrade of access routes, and the construction of a waterfront. This will be a phased development, and it is expected the development of the full site will take place over five to 12 years, depending on market conditions.

A 50 000sq m shopping centre is to be constructed by the Islamic Trust off the Allandale turnoff as part of a mini CBD for the Waterfall City development. Other minor centres will be built within the development.

Hyprop Investments Limited has bought 17ha of land from AECI division Heartland Properties to develop a lifestyle retail centre called Stoneridge, in Modderfontein. The 60 000sq m centre will cost around R450-million. It was conceived and will be developed by Abland.

Hyprop managing director Pieter Prinsloo says that while the affluent area is already home to more than 200 000 residents, 4 000 new residential units are planned to be built in the next five years. He said there was a move from conventional shopping malls to lifestyle centres which is a new trend experiencing rapid growth overseas, particularly in the US.

All these developments are bound to bring increasing traffic on already-congested roads. However, Nazir Alli, head of the National Roads Agency Limited, said the department of transport was well aware of this and was working closely with developers.

"We will not allow any development without the proper planning of roads. Full impact studies will be done on all aspects of the developments and developers will be required to contribute to roads upgrades," he said.

Already the Islamic Trust has pledged to spend R217-million on roads infrastructure for its Waterfall City development.