The Western Cape Department of Agriculture announced on Wednesday that it would commence with a study to determine the future of the area, while the Schaapkraal Civic and Environmental Association said it was not in favour of any study.
“We will not agree to any study. This is a prime and unique agricultural land,” it said in a statement.
The department initially called for bidders through its enforcing agent, Casidra, to table proposals to develop a plan of action to map, secure and grow agriculture in the PHA.
“The purpose of the study is to preserve and protect the PHA as a highly productive horticulture area to boost our food and nutrition security,” department deputy director-general Darryl Jacobs said.
He said the department was not the decision-making authority on the PHA.
“The results of our study will provide an evidence-base, as well as a set of recommendations, for decision-makers to use in evaluating land use in the area,” he said.
Jacobs also defended the department’s position and said it was committed to protecting agricultural land in urban space.
“The department has consistently opposed development applications in the PHA."
“A steering committee, which will include all relevant stakeholders and land users at the PHA, will also be established to guide the process,” he said.
Beverley Schäfer, the chairperson of the standing committee on economic opportunities, agriculture and tourism, said that she would be engaging with Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture MEC Alan Winde as well as his Environmental Affairs and Development Planning counterpart, Anton Bredell, on the way forward.
Schäfer urged the committee to take action to end the ongoing controversies surrounding the area, “because I am very worried about the protection of the area."
“We need to take immediate steps and come up with solutions,” Schäfer said.
A city representative, Kier Hennesy, said it acknowledged that the site had “potentially good production land. However, we see that it has also has other potential,” Hennesy said.
He said the city had encountered many challenges on the land, such as crime and traffic.
Schaapkraal Civic and Environmental Association chairperson Nazeer Sonday said that should development go ahead, “we stand at risk of losing precious agricultural land. How are we planning to feed the city?”
Sonday said a third of the area had already been processed for rezoning.
Last week, the Cape Argus reported on a legal battle between the developer and the association.
Oaklands City plans to build 30 000 houses on the property. The association appealed against a decision by the city that allowed developers to rezone it.