Development of PHA ‘illegal’
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DESPITE a national government directive that the development of part of the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) would change the area’s agricultural character, the City and the province are allowing it to take place.
In a 2009 letter from the Department of Agriculture to the City, the national body refused consent for the land use designation of a section of the PHA to be changed from horticultural use to urban development.
However, processes for development on the land have proceeded, with the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning recently approving the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Oakland City – a proposed 472.36ha housing development. This is also despite broad public opposition.
The 2009 letter was obtained by the PHA Food and Farming Campaign.
“After careful consideration… the Department do (sic) not grant consent for the above application. The development will change the agricultural character of the area and will lead to the development of a new residential node in an agricultural area, set a precedent for future development and lead to densification within the area.
“The PHA is a unique and irreplaceable area and cannot be recreated elsewhere,” reads the letter of which the Cape Times has a copy.
Susanna Coleman, of the campaign, said members had finally found the “smoking gun” through a Promotion of Access to Information Act application to obtain the letter.
“In the face of a specific decline by the National Department of Agriculture, proceeding with developments in the PHA is, quite simply, illegal. It is now up to the authorities concerned to address this issue,” she said.
James-Brent Styan, spokes-person for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell, referred queries to the City.
City spokesperson Priya Reddy said the City was not the final decision-maker at the time of the objection.
“Following due consideration of all inputs, including the mentioned objection, the Western Cape Government approved the application in 2011, and it was subsequently incorporated into the Cape Town Spatial Development Framework following its adoption in 2012,” she said.
However, she added that despite the EIA, detailed applications for rezoning and subdivision were still being undertaken before development would be permitted.