Philippi Horticultural Area File photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – The City of Cape Town has argued in the Western Cape High Court the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) Campaign's court action to halt development was “founded on myths”.

But Brett Herron, secretary-general of the Good party, believes the area should be protected and that the 2018 approved city council report stated the PHA be considered a "core farming area" and designated a "critical natural area".
 
Herron said on Wednesday just 18 months ago, when he was mayoral committee member responsible for spatial planning: " The City’s revised development plan promoted intensification and diversification of land use – more 'live-work-play' developments – and importantly proposed a shrinking of the permissible developable area of the metro.  

"Urban sprawl is eating our key biodiversity areas, water courses and valuable agricultural land. The revised development framework for the metro sought to stop that.
 
"From the beginning of the process I was clear that the City had to provide policy certainty about the future of the critical Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA).

"The PHA was, thus, a particular focal point in the City’s revised development plan. Experts across the board recommended protecting this valuable food production and groundwater recharge area.  
 
"The approved development framework for the City confirms (Page 146) that 'the PHA is unique in that it includes the Philippi Farming Area and plays a significant role in supporting food security at a metropolitan scale.
 
“Having a farming area within the urban footprint is unique and elevates the status of the PFA beyond that of an area of agricultural significance. 

"Its location in close proximity to residents enables the PHA to play a role in building resilience within the city from a food security perspective. The area has value as an aquifer recharge area and thus critical from a water resilience perspective.
 
"The southernmost area includes the Oaklands site that is the subject of the current court case. The Spatial Development Framework, approved by council, confirms that 'notwithstanding past decisions it is now considered as core farming area and the ideal future designation should be CNA (Critical Natural Areas)'. 

"Should the court set aside the decision on the relevant land use application, these areas should be considered for inclusion in the Philippi Farming Area.
 
"My department thus ensured that the incorporation of this land into the city’s network of protected and critical natural areas would be possible.  

"As the City leans more heavily on groundwater during emergencies, and our increasing population demands more food, it is imperative that we safeguard our city’s future food and water security."

The City of Cape Town’s legal representative, Ron Paschke, said in court on Tuesday, the Cape Argus reported: “One of the myths is that development(s) will be allowed to endanger the aquifer; that’s not true. 

"The aquifer will be protected through the application of the City’s stormwater management policy, adopted through international precedent that incorporates how urban developments should be managed and the sustainable urban drainage system."

"Paschke also slammed the applicants’ claims that farming is beneficial for the aquifer. 

“In fact, farming is more likely to do harm than development. The farming practising survey shows that the soil in Philippi requires almost hydroponic cultivation.

“It requires massive amounts of fertilisation. Its sand doesn’t have the nutrients, and it needs massive fertilisation. Where does this fertilisation go? It goes into the groundwater and results in high pollution of the groundwater,” Paschke said.

Cape Times