Background to the Development


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

The property on which the Schonenberg Estate is situated was in all likelihood utilised as a camp by Khoi pastoralists prior to Colonial settlement; as they used the areas between the Lourens and Eerste Rivers extensively. The historical use of the land was probably agricultural prior to ownership passing to the De Beers Consolidated Mines in 1903. Portion 46 comprised land which formed part of three large farms, which were included in a consolidated grant to De Beers Consolidated Mines in 1902/03. At the beginning of the century, De Beers established their operations and infrastructure in the area and in 1923 formed a new company called Africa Explosives and Chemical 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.

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 20th November 1722. It is told that the ship’s captain and three Dutch farmers from the Holland Hottentots district conspired to run the ship ashore – heavily laden with bales of silk, packages of pepper, costly oriental woods, boxes of Eastern silverware, ornaments made of gold and precious stones – with intent 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 and 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.

The street names within the Estate were chosen, wherever possible, on the basis of a historical connection with the Helderberg area. This was not always the case, due to the municipal regulations governing duplication of road names. However, the main theme is that of wrecks and explorers that contributed to the history of the area.

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 joint 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.

Successful Completion

Now, some ten years on, the property which is 71-hectare in extent comprises a total of 650 single residential homes and a retirement village, public open spaces and conservation areas. All homes are constructed according to strict architectural guidelines (view further information under “DOCUMENTS” Architecture & Building) and only a few erven are left to be developed. In the operational development phase of the Schonenberg Estate, the landscape architects laid out the grounds – 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 and 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. The country lifestyle estate has attracted a diverse mix of residents, ranging from young families to professionals to retired persons, thanks to its convenient location, sound security, and the award-winning landscaped environment. From the start, five per cent of the property was set aside for nature conservation and the Estate management is committed to maintaining and enhancing the environment for the benefit of the residents and the natural flora and fauna.

Governing Body

The entire Estate is managed by the Home Owners’ Association (HOA) following best practice sustainable principles. The association, which is governed by the Constitution (view under “DOCUMENTS” Estate Management Rules and Regulations), is responsible for the control, management, and administration of the Estate and the use and enjoyment of the Common Property. The main objective and purpose of the HOA is to promote, advance and protect the common interests of its Members with respect to their ownership and, above all, preserve a desirable living environment on the Schonenberg Estate.