CONTESTED GROUND: The battle to protect the PHA against developments is far from over. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - Activists campaigning for the protection of the Philippi Horticultural Area are not satisfied that the provincial government and the City would not have developments on the land, and instead to still want to approach the courts.

“This is election talk,” said Nazeer Sonday from the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) Food and Farming Campaign.

Western Cape Provincial Parliament Chief Whip Mark Wiley said a decision had been taken to protect the land as a food-producer rather than develop it.

“This is an immense victory for the people of Cape Town and will sustain both food security and agricultural jobs in the City for the future. I must commend, in particular, our chairperson for the standing committee on economic opportunities, tourism and agriculture, Beverley Schäfer, for fighting so passionately for this cause in her committees. Their work has yielded the best results for the citizens of Cape Town,” Wiley said.

But Sonday doesn’t agree. “How can this be a victory for farmers and the citizens of Cape Town when the City of Cape Town and MEC Anton Bredell are opposing us, a community-based organisation, in the High Court alongside developers?” he said. Sonday added that farmers stood to lose agricultural land and the aquifer recharge area in the PHA.

“They’re using taxpayers’ money against us taxpayers. We want all our 3169 hectares protected, as per the 1988 Guide Plan map, with long-term statutory protection available to the City,” he said.

It’s been an ongoing battle and the campaign has gone through numerous appeals to stop developers from building on this land. Last year it emerged that the association had appealed against a decision by the City of Cape Town which allowed developers to rezone it from agricultural land to a residential area.

Oaklands City, the developers, plan to build about 30000 homes in the area. The initial development application was made by Oaklands City back in 2008 to turn it into a residential area, but the City council voted against this.

In November 2016, in full council, the City reportedly granted the developer permission to rezone the land.

This was then appealed by the Schaapkraal Civic and Environmental Association. The association submitted a 19-page document that strongly objected to the land rezoning process.

Earlier this year, a study conducted by Indego Consulting on behalf of the Department of Tourism and Economic Opportunities was presented to the Western Cape standing committee on economic opportunities, tourism and agriculture, highlighting the importance of the PHA as an agricultural zone and suggesting the land should not be developed for residential purposes. The study recommended that the PHA be spared any development beyond the pending approved developments already in the planning phase.

[email protected]

Cape Argus