Housing plan blow to farms

The City of Cape Town’s latest nod to development on Philippi farmlands was done without consultation and is a blow to food security.

That’s the word from Nazeer Sonday, the chairman of the Philippi Horticultural Area Food and Farming Campaign.

In a statement last week, the City said its advisory panel on planning appeals had given the go-ahead for four private-sector developments on a “vacant and neglected” plots in Knole Park, which it said would provide more than 240 “affordable housing” units in Philippi.

The developments will be bounded by Strandfontein, Ottery and Boundary roads. The City claimed they would 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.

Two weeks ago, the City’s Planning Appeals Advisory Panel dismissed the appeals against the MPT’s decisions, clearing the way for the development.

Mr Sonday, who is at a biodiversity conference in Nairobi, Kenya told the Bulletin the PHA Food and Farming Campaign knew nothing about the development.

Going ahead with it, he said, would further erode the farming area (“Proposed development threatens farmlands,” Bulletin, May 2)

“There were no public participation, no EIA (environmental impact assessment) or rezone processes,” said Mr Sonday.

He called the move another on-going attempt by the City to “pave over” the PHA in a dishonest way.

“They say in public they’re protecting the PHA while behind the scenes they hand the PHA over to developers.”

Mayco member for spatial planning and environment Marian Nieuwoudt said that the panel’s decision to dismiss the appeals was for the greater good of the local community and also complied with the City’s municipal spatial development framework that compelled the City to protect the productive core of the PHA.

The developments would be well-located and close to public transport services and major routes, she said.

“’We are all aware of the dire need for affordable housing in Cape Town. Approximately 30% of the land in Knole Park is vacant and neglected, making it prone to crime and invasions. These private developments will help put to good use urban vacant land, while at the same time improving the general safety of the local community” Ms Niewoudt said.