No rezoning for Glen Dirk farm

The Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (CRRA) recently launched an interim application to compel the City of Cape Town to file its answering papers concerning planned developments on Glen Dirk farm in Constantia.

The City then withdrew its opposition to the CRRA’s application and tendered to pay their costs.

The owners of Glen Dirk farm also launched a counter-application against the exco members of what was then known as the Constantia Property Owners’ Association (CPOA) with the intention of holding them jointly and severally liable for costs.

This opposition and their counter-application has also been withdrawn.

Glen Dirk Farm was at the centre of a court case between the community and the City after it gave the go-ahead for houses to be built on the estate (“Court battle over Glen Dirk”, Bulletin February 12, 2015).

Owned by the Menell Family Trust since 1948, the 54-hectare estate lies to the south of Bishopscourt and west of the M3 and Chart Farm and the Alphen part of Constantia on the west and south sides.

About two-thirds of the land is under vineyards but there are no wine pressing and processing facilities on the property.

The remaining area largely covered by exotic trees and uncultivated bush and scrub while it has one large house that was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

Glen Dirk farm has been recognised by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) as a heritage resource of national significance.

The intention of the owners was to subdivide seven plots from what is one of the largest and most important historical farms in the valley. “This would forever change the historical environment and farm/agricultural feel to this part of Constantia,” said spokesperson John Hesom of the then CPOA.

The battle began in April 2014 when an application for the rezoning and subdivision was approved for purposes of residential development.

The CPOA maintained the City also ignored its own policies and that Glen Dirk not only forms an integral part of one of the most significant agricultural anchors in the Constantia-Tokai Valley.

Rick Menell, representing the family trust, was asked for comment but said that because this is quite an intricate legal process, principally between the City and the CRRA, they cannot give input right now.

When the Bulletin initially wrote the story, Mr Menell said the family wanted to ensure the integrity of this special place for future generations.

He said five of the seven houses would be built on existing footprint and would therefore not eat into the vineyards and the impact of the development would be “minimal to none”, in terms of the heritage and aesthetic impact on the property specifically.

Mr Menell said the upkeep of Glen Dirk is very expensive and this is what motivated the application. “We want to guarantee the future of this historic farm and commit to preserving it for future generations.

This without the need to apply for approval for commercial development as other wine farms in the Valley have been forced to do,” said Mr Menell.

“Glen Dirk is a precious and iconic farm in the Constantia Valley and we, like other Constantia residents, value the rural character that these historic wine farms contribute to the Valley,” said Mr Menell.