AllyCAD Showcase

'Taking That Step'

Marike Vreken Town Planners,
Eastern Cape

There comes a time in everyone's life when you boldly decide to step into the unknown and try something different. For Marike Vreken, this bold move happened in June 2004 when she resigned from VPM Planning to start up her own company, Marike Vreken Town Planners.

This dynamic company consists of a small team of administrators with Marike herself managing all areas of the business. "When I established my company just over a year ago, it was very scary. We started out with a few projects and then as our confidence levels grew, our assignments increased based on the number of positive referrals that we received. We are now so busy that we can hardly cope with the amount of work," says Marike, clearly pleased with recent developments.

The acquisition of AllyCAD and Civil Designer was one of the first investments that Marike insisted on when the company became operational. "As I worked with Knowledge Base's programs, the other packages that I worked on seemed to pale in comparison. It is amazing how you can generate contours from orthophoto information. All you have to do is to transfer the survey and map information into Civil Designer, do a slope analysis to draft the contours and wap bang, you have generated site maps. It is such a pleasure!"

According to Marike, the Knysna area is famous for its slope regulations and this has caused many clients to rethink their property purchases. "Developers may not develop an area with slopes that are steeper than 1 4. So when a client needs some help, I can advise them on what may be developed based on existing regulations."

"Since I've been on my own, I am involved in everything. Many of my clients are private developers so I help with property assessments and investigate things like spatial and statutory requirements. I find that Civil Designer comes in quite handy when I generate the preliminary potential report relating to the property because the program conducts slope analysis quite easily. I also lend assistance when putting the project team together. These consist of engineers, electrical engineers, hydrologists, flood line analysts and aerial surveyors," explains Marike.

Project activities are spread over a wide geographic region and span from MosselBay all the way through to Plettenberg Bay and even Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn. "Business is definitely booming and I believe that it is as a result of a committed attitude towards service excellence. It is important to remember that we are not only planning and helping to develop towns, but that we are also in a service industry and the clients' needs have to be met," says Marike.
  The Outeniquasbosch Safari Park is an interesting project that has recently come aboard. "This project is just outside of Hartenbos and consists of a 520 ha game farm. The project is still in its beginning stage and should be finalised towards the end of March 2006 once all the relevant project approvals have been granted. The owner developer has been farming with game for the last 16 years. He has something like 27 buffalos and 2 giraffes on the property and is a real wild life lover. The plan is to develop houses similar to a game farm estate."

Getting the necessary approvals in place for the massive project was challenging to say the least. "If all goes well in terms of the environmental process, then it will roughly take about two years to get all the approvals. When we selected the project team, we had to conduct a site analysis so that the steep slopes could be avoided. We then got the botanists involved so that they could examine all the really sensitive vegetation areas. From there the real fun began as we looked at what was available for residential ground without compromising on grazing lands or sensitive environments."

Marike is pleased with her involvement in the concept development of Outeniquasbosch Safari Park and prides herself on being involved in one of the most unique projects ever. "It will be great to see the finished project and quite a satisfying feeling to see the residential homes in place amidst the game grazing on the grazing fields," she says.

Has the decision to break away and fly solo been a good one? The dazzling smile is instant and the emphatic nod clear confirmation that Knysna is in for a couple of big surprises on the Town Planning side.

image Marike Vreken is the owner of Marike Vreken Town Planners, a successful business that first opened its doors on 1 June 2004. This dynamic self starter grew up in Potchefstroom in the Western Transvaal and matriculated at Potchefstroom Gimnasium High School where she went on to complete her degree in Town and Regional Planning at the University of Potchefstroom. She worked at the Town Planning division of the University of Stellenbosch and then at companies like Paarl Municipality, Urban Dynamic and VPM Planning.

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