Construction has started on the new Westown Square shopping mall in KwaZulu Natal – the first development in the R30 billion mixed-use precinct being built between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

The Westown development has entered its first phase, with the retail hub of Westown Square planned for opening by Easter 2025.

The mall and wider retail elements aim for a “high-street” feel, designed by retail specialists MDS Architecture in a joint venture with Boogertman and Partners KZN.

The retail area will cover 50,000 square metres, the developers said, and will feature niche offerings on top of national brands covering fashion, health and beauty, food, entertainment and lifestyle.

The developers said that the retail elements will be complemented by a ‘town square’ environment with features like an amphitheatre and maze, along with children’s play areas.

It will also feature “The Barn”, which is a market concept that will offer “bespoke experiences, with food, wine, local produce and handmade crafts housed in a textured environment of warmth and greenery”.

The new shopping mall forms the anchor for the wider 100-hectare Westown development, valued at over R2.5 billion.

Westow itself has been characterised as a “town within a town” and forms part of a much greater Shongweni Urban Development project, valued at R30 billion.

Westown has secured and approved development rights of approximately 520,000 square metres of bulk floor area. Various parts of the development are expected to open over the next five to ten years.

In late 2022, eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the R30 billion development would be a nine-phase urban mixed-use project that aims to create a new economic hub in the region.

He said it would be like the region’s own ‘Midrand’, sitting as a mid-point between two large cities (Durban and Pietermaritzburg).

“It will further catalyse investment in the city and stimulate job creation and investment,” he said.