Words: Kit Heathcock Images: Supplied
Pinelands really is the archetypal suburb: tree-lined streets, houses on large leafy plots, curving crescents, peace and quiet insulated from the urban bustle. Developed from 1918 onwards along the idealistic models of the international Garden Cities movement, it was the first of its kind in South Africa, reaching maturity and converting to a municipality in 1948.
Now long-established, Pinelands has been home to several generations of the same families and, according to residents, once here it’s hard to leave. From creches and excellent schools, to fantastic old-age homes and the Vincent Pallotti Hospital, it serves every stage of life, and those who move away as young adults often return to bring up their own children. “I grew up here myself,” says resident Andy Stuart. “I’ve lived in Sea Point and Woodbridge Island, but I came back. It’s a wonderful place to raise children, and all my siblings live here too. I love the community and that it’s getting so diverse.”
The houses built in the early days of Pinelands were mostly thatched, an English vernacular adapted for South Africa, but the Garden Cities movement prided itself on not taking the cookie-cutter approach, so a wide variety of architectural styles were used, both single and double-storey, thatch, tile and slate roofs. Well-built with wooden floors and high ceilings, the original properties have aged gracefully, and the good-sized gardens set back from the roads are ideal for families, just as the original planners intended. Not much has changed over the years, except for occasional small developments on empty plots and additional retirement villages, but a 22ha new development on the old Conradie Hospital site adjoining the northeast corner of Pinelands is now in the pipeline. Projected as a mixed-use development, it’s a partnership between the Western Cape Government and the private sector, with the aim of creating affordable, sustainable housing within easy reach of work hubs.
Pinelands’ reputation as a family suburb is strengthened by its excellent schools. The three well-regarded public primary schools are known by the colours of their uniforms: Pinelands Primary is the Blue School, Pinelands North is Red and Pinehurst Primary, Green. Learners progress to Pinelands High School which also has an excellent reputation. “My son walks to school every day,” says resident Liza Vianello. “Pinelands High School has great facilities and offers such a wide variety of subjects. Their maths and science progammes are supported by UCT and they have just built a basketball court.”
There are some excellent private pre-primaries and Cannons Creek Independent School is flourishing. “Cannons Creek is a fantastic school, my girls attended from Grade R to matric,” says Michele Coss, who recently moved away from Pinelands after living there most of her life. “Pinelands is very family and community orientated. We always felt safe living there and the kids were able to walk around freely.”
Pinelands was founded on the ideal of green space, fresh air and healthy living, so it’s no surprise that entertainment is more about parks and sports activities rather than bars and clubbing. You won’t find a bottle store, bar or club within the “dry” suburb, although restaurants do serve alcohol, and there’s a relaxed family feel throughout. “Spending time with friends, socialising and braaiing was always our favourite thing to do,” says Michele. “The parks are beautifully maintained,” adds Andy. “On the Oval everyone walks their dogs and socialises.”
Old Mutual with its headquarters at Mutual Park on the edge of Pinelands is a household name, not just because many of its employees live locally, but also for its facilities. “We have the Old Mutual sports facility on our doorstep which non-Old Mutual people may join,” says Liza. “They offer soccer, cricket, hockey, squash and a gym with an indoor pool.”
Other sports options in Pinelands include running clubs, a tennis club, yoga, Zumba and many other activities. And horse-mad kids are lucky enough to have horse-riding on offer at nearby Oude Molen.
We love living in Pinelands because of the convenience, it’s so centrally located and everything we need is right here. There are lovely green trees and parks, we live in a quiet street and our neighbours are polite and considerate and look out for each other.
Liza Vianello, resident
- Magica Roma: over 30 years as one of Cape Town’s best known Italian restaurants
- Hog House Brewing company: smoked and barbecued meats, Scotch eggs, bar snacks and craft beers
- Saltwater Grill: excellent seafood with a spritz of creativity
- Villagio Pizzeria: neighbourhood Italian menu and wood-fired pizza
- Know Thy Farmer at Oude Molen Eco Village: breakfasts, cakes and coffee
- The Howard Centre: Pick n Pay, Woolworths, banks and coffee shops
- Central Square Centre: Spar, Clicks, hardware, pet shop and more
- West End Mall at Mutual Park: Dischem, CNA and various other shops and services
- Old Mutual sports club and gym for sports and fitness
- Oude Molen Eco Village for horse-riding and outdoor play
- Be.Up trampoline and climbing park for the whole family
- Golf at Mowbray Golf Club