Cape Town – The battle for the city’s green zone will be heading to the Western Cape High Court next week.
Activists who have been campaigning for the protection of the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) want the court to review 12 approved development rezonings in the area.
PHA Food and Farming campaign chairperson Nazeer Sonday said: “The only way we can get justice is by going to court. We believe our case is solid and we have no doubt that our case is good.”
On October 15 and 16, the PHA Food and Farming Campaign will be arguing in the High Court for the preservation of a key piece of agricultural land in the City’s jurisdiction which is under threat from development.
The case challenges administrative decisions made by Local Development, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell, his department, and the City to rezone a part of the PHA for mixed-use development.
“This area is vital for food security and vital for our future. All of our issues so far have been ignored by the City and the province,” Sonday said.
Campaigners are challenging the granting of permission for developments in the area, including a sand mine. Two large developments have been on the cards, with widespread opposition to a planned 472.36 hectare development called Oakland City.
On Sunday the campaign held a “Last Supper” at St Mary’s Cathedral. The Last Supper was the final meal Jesus Christ had with his disciples before he was betrayed by Judas and crucified. Sonday said that the correlation between Jesus Christ and now is very similar.
“What we are highlighting is what is at stake here and what we stand to lose which is everything we have worked so hard in building,” he said.
Bishop of the Anglican Church, Geoff Davies, also came out in support of the campaign.
“The DA and the City of Cape Town should never have even considered the concreting over of the priceless and irreplaceable aquifer and agricultural land. It is a disgrace. The primary cause is that those in authority and with vested interests place financial interests above the well-being of people and the natural environment on which we are totally dependent.”
Mayco member for spatial planning and environment Marian Nieuwoudt said: “We are the fourth respondent in the matter.
“What we are trying to do is develop on the demarcated area that we are allowed to.
“At the moment there are demarcated areas where developments are allowed to take place. But we will allow for the courts to decide on the way forward.”
In August the City’s advisory panel on planning appeals gave the green light for four private sector developments that will provide over 240 affordable housing units in Philippi. These developments will be located between Strandfontein, Ottery and Boundary roads and will help create a well-defined edge between the urban zone and the Philippi Horticultural Area.
The Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) approved the proposed development applications in November and December last year. In August the City’s Planning Appeals Advisory Panel dismissed the appeals against the MPT’s decisions, which now paves the way for the developments to commence.
“The developments will help us to establish a clear boundary between the urban edge, and the very important rural area that is otherwise known as the Philippi Horticultural Area. The erven that will be developed are situated in Knole Park, in the far western side of the PHA between Strandfontein, Ottery, and Boundary roads,” Nieuwoudt said.
James-Brent Styan, spokesperson for the Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell, said: “The matter is sub judice and therefore we cannot comment at this time.”