An artist's impression of Wescape, the planned mini city expected to be built between Melkbosstrand and Atlantis.

Cape Town - Wescape, the multibillion-rand housing development set to be built near Melkbosstrand, will degenerate into nothing more than a low-cost housing slum, says an objector to the project.

The city called for comments after receiving an application in 2011 to extend the city’s north-western urban edge to develop a R140 billion “mini-city” comprising 200 000 houses, 415 educational facilities (schools, crèches and colleges), 370 “public service facilities” (such as libraries and clinics), and 15 sports complexes on a 3 100-hectare erf between the Cape Town CBD and Atlantis. The period for objections closed last March.

David and Cathy Butler, who live on a smallholding adjacent to where Wescape is to be built, said in their submission that a low-cost housing development would destroy everything they had worked for and negate the very reason they had decided to move there.

“This development will degenerate into nothing more than a low-cost housing, informal settlement slum, which will impact heavily on the value of property,” they said.

In response, Wescape developer communiTgrow said the Butlers were “speculating on the essence of what Wescape will be”.

“The low-income earners are as much part of our society as everybody else and although a significant portion of the housing units will be for that income group, they will be positioned during the detailed planning phases of the project to integrate with the higher income groups and have as little impact as possible, all within the framework of a fully integrated settlement.”

Wescape is mainly focused on lower income groups - those earning between R4 000 and R6 000 a month. The population is expected to reach 800 000 by 2036.

Other objections include the unlikelihood that residents would be able to be evacuated in time in the event of a nuclear accident at Koeberg, only a few kilometres away.

Objections were received from the National Nuclear Regulator, Eskom’s Koeberg power station and the city’s disaster risk management, fire and rescue, and parks departments.

They argued that the development would be within the 5km to 16km Urgent Protective Action Planning Zone and that any emergency evacuation of close to a million residents would fail.

But communiTgrow said: “Koeberg objected on the premise that the application is being made for development rights. The application is however only for the (extension of the city’s urban edge).

“If any objection, submitted as if development rights are being applied for, are considered valid, then the further processes of rezoning, environmental authorisation and subdivision will be obsolete and of no consequence.”

ComminiTgrow said it was “fully aware” that a nuclear regulatory evacuation model and assessment would be required before development rights could be granted.

The application to extend the city’s urban edge was discussed by the city council and has been forwarded to the provincial Environment and Development Planning Department for approval.

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Cape Argus