Ingwe: secure, off-the-grid estate living meets Plett’s natural beauty – Craig Young of INEX Developments

As 2021 comes to a close, many are heading off to their favourite holiday destinations for a much-needed break. Plettenberg Bay remains one of South Africa’s favourite vacation spots and, if you’re en route to the coastal town, there’s a project that is well worth checking out. Craig Young of Ingwe is developing an extraordinary project; a 100 hectare reserve with 30 homes and a huge expanse of natural space – gorgeous forests, off-the-grid living and national parks.

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Craig Young on the creation of INEX Developments 

A friend of mine from varsity owns the farm, William Edwards. He started the process eight years ago and when he got closer to obtaining the rights, he asked if we would like to do the development on his behalf because he realised you need experience in this type of development; being off the grid the green aspects to it. We became involved about two years ago.

On INEX Development’s environmentally conscious properties

The main thing is always the environmental aspect. That is [usually] the biggest headache in these developments. It’s a good thing as well because you get the rights correct and it’s the right thing to do even though we as developers hate taking long because time is money. But in a way, it is a good thing. It is such a special site. The forests, all 50 hectares, are completely indigenous; 99% of the aliens have been removed. With pristine developments like that, you would expect that Environmental Affairs would be very strict and the [regulations] are very strict. 

On INEX Development’s architectural guidelines

We are limited in the footprint of the dwellings to 420 m2. We are not allowed to go outside of that footprint, which is an environmental [stipulation]. We are entitled to a double-storey so can increase to 800 m2 on the dwelling side. The actual footprint of the gardens is 1,100 m2. [There is a natural] flow into the entire permaculture and farming area around you, as long as you stick within the district guidelines. Whether in a forest area, grassland area or permaculture area, you can extend your garden within the guidelines and have natural forests or your own natural permaculture around your house. You are not that limited in size; it just depends on which area you choose and what you want to do. 

On the 19 new properties to be built

There are currently existing houses on the estate, which are other workers’ houses or little timber chalets. Those footprints are fixed. We cannot move them because they will not allow any extra disturbance to the natural forest. Those units are closer together. No existing buildings will be demolished. There are going to be 19 completely new units. Those units are very exclusive and far apart; neighbours are quite a distance from each other. 

On communal facilities to keep the interaction between neighbours

Yes, we have designed a general clubhouse, with squash and tennis courts, gyms, a yoga studio, a place for the children to play, and a [communal] lounge/kitchen/bar area. There is also a huge existing educational centre that we are turning into a business hub with facilities for people who want to work from home. If they have extra printing or need assistance on the admin side, there will be a small business centre. There is an area that used to be a soccer field and they’ve allowed us to use that as the training area for golf with putting and chipping greens. Right next to it is an old timber building that has been there for many years, which we plan to turn into a pub.  

On the maximum disturbance footprint allowed

There are 11 existing homes. We demolished them and built within new architectural guidelines. The maximum disturbance footprint that we are allowed to do on the entire state, including new roads, is just one hectare. We are only allowed to [develop] 1% of the entire 100 hectares. That is where our limitations came in; we had to decide whether to go a bit bigger with fewer units; or smaller and more units. We opted for fewer units because we realised we are catering for the discerning buyer.

With such a big estate, [home owners must be people who] understand and love the environment, people who appreciate food and water security. We are going to bring in solar and other off-the-grid switch systems. We have 40 hectares of water rights for irrigation. This allows us to do food security in a very organised manner with permaculture.

On security guarding the properties

There is electrified game fencing at the moment, and we will bring in automatic cameras and human detection cameras where required. That is something we do on all our estates. That is the way to go now in the Eastern Cape as well, it’s not just Johannesburg that is hectic. Unfortunately, crime is on the rise and, I think, [the pandemic has made it] worse. We are well aware of that and security will be of a high standard. 

On whether INEX Development follows a specific model of design                                    

We have very strict architectural guidelines. We are going for the more natural wood, stone, gloss steel look. Certain designs have a barn-like feel, others are a bit more modern. It is quite open for the client to make changes, to do their own design and put their stamp on their unit. However, there are strict guidelines to ensure the estate is harmonious and more or less looks the same.

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