18 May 23

KZN COMEBACK: Managed precincts take local regions to new heights

The founder and managing director of Urban MGT, Brian Wright, shares how urban management companies, such as Urban MGT and Management Associations are essential to the success of areas within KwaZulu-Natal. Urban Improvement Precincts are best defined as a designated area within a city or town that have been identified for special attention and investment to improve their condition, appearance, and functionality. They are often characterised by high-density residential and commercial developments, bustling streets, and a diverse range of cultural and social activities. Urban Improvement Precincts are often home to a variety of people from all walks of life, from young professionals and families to retirees and students. As a key provider of services to residents and businesses within these Urban Improvement Precincts, Management Associations work alongside Municipalities, residents and businesses to ensure a holistic goal of maintaining, upkeeping and providing a secure environment is met efficiently and effectively.

First adopters and trend setters

Umhlanga was one of the early adopters of the managed precinct approach. Thereafter, they have pioneered this precinct model, to create holistic lifestyles for all who live, work and visit. Urban MGT have clusters of managed precincts which include Umhlanga, parts of greater Ballito, the central area which is around Riverhorse Business Park, Bridge City, and within the outer west, Shongweni, and the Dube Tradeport. Their services have pioneered safe neighbourhoods and created thriving areas.

Structure and organisation lead the success

Managed precincts are about organising ourselves into a cohesive structure to be able to set aside competing interests around a table and have a common plan of action for ‘the good’ of the future.  According to Brian, when we have a macro plan and institutional structure, it gives us a great advantage of scale in terms of engaging with the Municipality. It provides us with a lot of credibility around service delivery infrastructure, enables the upkeep of the area and gives us the ability to position a cohesive area brand in the market to drive investment, build real estate value and create interest. These models have been successful as they have had the ability to deal with socio-economic challenges and drive job creation to close those historical gaps. Collectively, we can be formidable.

Catering for a growing population

In terms of rehabilitating KwaZulu-Natal, one of the most pertinent points to consider is the reality of accelerating urbanisation in developing countries. Whether you are in South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, or Qatar, cities are faced with the same challenges of not having enough resources to meet the growing demands of the population. Managed precincts provide a solution to this challenge by organising spaces in a coherent way. Brian shares that Urban MGT offer a range of services to help their clients achieve their goals. Services include precinct management, urban management consulting, property management, and development management.

Precinct services and management

Precinct management involves managing the entire precinct, including the maintenance of infrastructure, security, cleaning, and landscaping. Urban management consulting services provide strategic advice and support to public and private sector clients in the areas of urban planning, urban design, and development management.

Property management services offer a comprehensive range of solutions to maximise the value of a property portfolio. This includes property leasing, tenant management, asset management, and property maintenance. Development management services offer end-to-end project management including project feasibility studies, project planning, design management, construction management, and post-construction management.

Delivering foundation services

The services provided by an urban management company in Urban Improvement Precincts can vary depending on the specific needs of the community. Here are ten key things that such a company might do for residents:


Implementing security measures to help prevent crime and ensure the safety of residents and visitors. This can include 24-hour camera surveillance or licence plate detection and other high tech systems to keep your neighbourhood crime-free.


Ever wondered how some areas look more pristine than others, with beautiful trees on the verges and landscaped islands between roads? Urban management companies provide regular maintenance services to keep the precinct clean, attractive, and well-functioning, including garbage collection, landscaping, and repairs.


Ensuring proper lighting is in place is essential to improve visibility, promote safety, and enhance the overall ambiance of the precinct. There’s nothing worse than street lights not working for months on end due to a backlog of work.

Traffic management:

Coordinating traffic and parking to reduce congestion, improve accessibility, and promote a more pedestrian-friendly environment. Cyclist and regular walkers will enjoy precincts where there is space for them too.

Event management:

Planning and executing events and activities to promote community engagement, build social connections, and enhance the precinct’s cultural identity is a key aspect of placemaking and creating a desirable place to live.

Marketing and promotion:

Urban management includes developing marketing and promotional strategies to attract new residents, businesses, and visitors to the precinct.

Community engagement:

There are several voices that exist within a community, each with its own interests. It’s important to have a mediator at times to ensure everyone is engaging. This method can bring residents and local businesses together to identify their needs and concerns and facilitate open communication and collaboration.

Technology infrastructure:

This includes implementing and managing technology infrastructure to support the community’s needs, including Wi-Fi, smart lighting, and other innovative technologies.


Implementing sustainability measures to promote environmental responsibility and reduce the precinct’s carbon footprint means that there is more emphasis on being able to walk. Walkability is growing as we create 15-minute neighbourhoods.

Business development:

Supporting local businesses and fostering economic growth by providing resources, information, and support for new and existing businesses.

Brian advocates that it is for each of us in our spaces, macro and micro, to begin to take and show pride. KwaZulu-Natal is prolific at establishing small clusters of thriving communities through these managed precincts. It is through these tried and tested, and successful models, that areas throughout South Africa are adopting a managed precinct approach. Often residents are happy to collectively contribute to the upliftment of their street or district, to complement the Municipalities efforts and ensure they live in a clean, safe space. Managed precincts are effectively a solution to the challenges of accelerating urbanisation in developing countries and it starts with each one of us.

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