Schonenberg Estate is situated on land which was in all likelihood utilised as a camp by Khoi pastoralists before colonial settlement. They used the areas between the Lourens and Eerste Rivers extensively. The historical use of the property was probably agricultural before ownership passed to the De Beers Consolidated Mines in 1903.

At the beginning of the century, De Beers established their operations and infrastructure in the area. In 1923 they formed a new company called Africa Explosives and Industries Ltd (AECI) to house their explosives business. The property interests of AECI Ltd were managed by a subsidiary company, Heartland Properties (Pty) Ltd, which received approval for the rights to develop the property.

In 2003, a group of South African investors entered into a partnership to acquire and develop the residential portion of the property known initially as Portion 46 of the Farm 794, Stellenbosch. Gaining the rights to the property was a lengthy process. It included many specialist studies that formed the background to a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment, as well as extensive public participation in the rezoning process.


The name “Schonenberg” originates from the story of a shipwreck. The Dutch East Indiaman, The Schonenberg, was on her eighth voyage back to Holland from the East when she ran aground at Cape Agulhas on 20 November 1722. It is told that the ship’s captain and three Dutch farmers from the Holland Hottentots district conspired to run the vessel ashore. It was heavily laden with bales of silk, packages of pepper, costly oriental woods, boxes of Eastern silverware, ornaments made of gold and precious stones.

The intent was to salvage the valuable cargo and stash it away on the Vergelegen Estate, near the town of Somerset West. When the Governor at the Castle of Good Hope was informed of the dubious circumstances of the wreck, he was suspicious. He had the perpetrators arrested, tried and brutally punished. Although the grounds of Vergelegen were thoroughly searched over the years, no treasure was ever recovered, but the legend lives on.

Blog article – Story of a Shipwreck by Corrie du Toit

Professional Groundwork

The Schonenberg Estate was the realisation of many years of hard work by a carefully selected team of individuals. Specialists in urban design and landscape architecture, environmental and civil engineering consultants, who with their particular strengths, enabled the developer to gain the synergy from their collective experience.

Since its inception in 2005, the estate has proved to be one of the most sought-after property investments in the Helderberg as well as the Greater Cape Town Metropole.

Operational Development

Schonenberg Estate is 71-hectare in extent (roughly 1.6 km long and 4.5 km wide). It comprises a total of 650 single residential homes, a retirement village, public open spaces and conservation areas.

In the operational development phase, the landscape architects laid out the ‘Common Property’, meaning the entrances, parks, street gardens and transitional areas, in keeping with the design philosophy of the estate. The layout reflects the characteristics of the surrounding historical, agricultural landscape. The main design elements relate to the subdivision of farmland through tree lines and werf walls, defining the boundaries between public and private spaces.

The original landscaping plan has given the estate a distinctive character with an aesthetic appeal that is in keeping with and adds value to the urban development of Somerset West.

Blog article – Landscaping by Cherry Crowden

All the residential homes have been constructed according to strict architectural guidelines, and only a few erven are left to be developed. For further information view Architecture & Building.

Present And Future

The Schonenberg lifestyle estate successfully attracts a diverse mix of residents – ranging from young families to professionals and retired persons -, thanks to its convenient location, sound security, and the landscaped environment.

From the start, the developers set aside five per cent of the property for nature conservation. The estate management is committed to maintaining and enhancing the environment for the benefit of residents and the natural flora and fauna.

Governing Body

Schonenberg Estate is managed by the Home Owners’ Association (HOA) following best practice sustainable principles. The HOA, governed by the Constitution, is responsible for the control, management, and administration of the estate. It is also responsible for the use and enjoyment of the Common Property.

For information about the Constitution and the Conduct Rules view Estate Management Rules and Regulations 

The main objective and purpose of the HOA are to promote, advance, and protect the common interests of its members. Issues concerning their ownership and, above all, preserve a desirable living environment on the Schonenberg Estate.