Gqunube Green Ecovillage Frequently Asked Questions:

Where is Gqunube Green Ecovillage?
Gqunube Green Ecovillage consists of two farms on the east bank of the Gonubie River estuary, near East London.  The property has about 1.5km of river frontage.  By road it is 20km from the centre of East London. It is ten minutes from the N2 and there is a small commercial centre, Crossways, about 3km away.

What are the aims/vision for the community?
The Gqunube Green Ecovillage aims to provide an alternative form of development that attempts to give residents the opportunity to live sustainable lifestyles. One really important aspect of the vision is that all the  experience gained and lessons learned in developing this village will be captured and applied to the development of similar ecovillages in the future.

I don’t know much about green living, but I am keen to learn, do I qualify?
Keenness is sufficient. We offer courses to increase ‘green living’ knowledge and we all are learning from each other.

I support the idea of green living but isn’t it a bit impractical and hard work?
It is not hard work but a shift in mindset as is being shown on so many local and international TV shows. Being sustainable does not have to mean being uncomfortable or giving up modern amenities.

What will I be expected to do by way of managing the farm and my own plot?
The farm has been run using Holistic Resource Management, and Permaculture is one of the courses offered.  Homeowners are encouraged, but not required, to develop organic gardens and grow at least some of their own food. Most people who are interested in sustainable living are already doing this where they live now. We also encourage (but don’t insist on) indigenous planting in garden areas not being used for food production. This is not only better for the environment, it is also less work to maintain and generally uses less water.

What size is Gqunube Green Ecovillage?
Residents have access to an 80ha area.  The ecovillage portion of the farms is less than 20 hectares with the remaining portions being kept as (or returned to) indigenous forests, indigenous grasslands and future organic farming.  The ecovillage has 74 plots 61 of which have been put on the market. So far 35 of them have been sold. The village is still quite new so currently only two homes have been built and are being occupied while another four are in building phase and several other owners are clearing the building area (not whole plot) and getting their plans processed.

What are plots sizes?
Sizes are approx 1200 sq m. – roughly 30m by 40m.   Sizes vary somewhat as they were set out on site taking into consideration features such as water courses, vegetation, land fall etc.

How much are the plots?
They are currently between about R275 000 and R440 000.  Purchasers have freehold title to the land  purchased and a right of access to the farms - but as they say - terms and conditions apply regarding the access to ensure the integrity of the indigenous area is preserved for all to enjoy. 

How secure is the development?
A 14 strand perimeter fence has recently been installed on the two land boundaries; the remainder of our boundary is the river.  There is a security gate at the only road entrance.  It works with remotes and cell phone calls from registered phones to it.  Currently it is not manned but when there are sufficient people living on the ecovillage that could be a possibility.

How is Gqunube Green Ecovillage managed and run?
The village is being developed by an organisation called the D T Hudson Christian Ecovillage Trust (CET). Because the village is only a year old, the developer is still in the process of handing over the running of the village to the Home Owner Association (HOA) who are themselves slowly establishing their own set of norms and standards. 

Are there compulsory meetings and gatherings?
It is advisable that all owners get involved in at least one of the management sub-groups (called Circles) which run the various aspects of the HOA – Finance, Land, Facilities, Social etc. There is also an AGM. that all owners should attend, just as with any Association. There are occasional social gatherings, but they are totally optional.

How do electricity and water connections work?
Gqunube Green Ecovillage  Home Owners Association gets bulk electricity from Eskom and bulk water from Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality.  Meters are read monthly and plot owners charged for consumption.  In addition there is an 'electricity availability' charge that covers Eskom's 'availability' charges which is spread between all the plots.  This is currently set at R140 per month but goes up about R20 during winter months.  As with the rest of South Africa, the village is subject to Eskom tariff increases each April.  The value is set to cover the expenses and is not a source of money making. 

What is the sewage system?
The village is not on a municipal sewage system.  We require owners to do quality primary treatment on their plot and can discharge any clear filtrate that they do not use on their plot into the ecovillage system.  There are a number of systems being used at Gqunube Green for this and we are learning about new and improved methods all the time.

Are there electricity and water connection fees?
There are no fees to GGE HOA for connections. Both electricity and water, with meters, are ready at each plot boundary.  Like any other housing development, you will need a qualified electrician (at your expense) to take the electricity from the kiosk onto the property. 

Are there annual rates?
At present there are no municipal rates on the Ecovillage or the individual plots. They will no doubt come some time in the future.  The developers pay rates on the remaining agricultural land (at agricultural rates) but do not pass that on to the Home Owner’s Association or plot owners.

What is the monthly levy?
Monthly levy is currently R200 per month. This can be changed by the general circle.  Here again it is based on need and anticipated need, not greed.

What are the anticipated Transfer costs?
It is based on the plot price. At our current prices it should be between R5500 plus VAT and R6900 plus VAT. There will also be a few other legal ‘fees’ which should come to between R1300 and R1500.

Are there architectural guidelines?
The only restrictions currently in place are the building regulations as found in the constitution and a short explanation of them is available on request. These primarily relate to height of buildings, proportion of the site area that may be built upon (25%), building lines etc.  Plans need to be passed by the Architectural Circle which is creating some guidelines.

Are there building time limits?
The constitution reads three years.  This effectively means three years plus submission/approval period between the two years and the one year.  We are working on the clarification of this clause in the constitution.  The reason for these time limits is to deter speculators.  We are wanting houses built and occupied to create a living, working environment.

Are there any restriction to selling the plot?
The restrictions relevant to selling the plot are in the Deed of Sale at clause 21. Basically it gives the original seller (CET) first right of refusal to re-purchase the property at the same price the seller can obtain on the open market, or nominate someone else to do so.

Come and see for yourself.