Rezoning appeal snubbed

The Philppi Horticultural Area is 16km, a 28-minute drive from Constantia and produces 200 000 tons of food annually.

After weeks of asking for the outcome of the appeal against Oaklands City developers’ (previously known as Rapicorp) application to rezone land in the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA), Mersini Iakovidis, spokesperson for the Speaker of the House in the City of Cape Town, provided the decision adding, “This concludes our correspondence with the media on this matter.”

Asked for clarification, the City’s media office responded yesterday morning, saying: “The outcome of the appeal and the reasons, which should be considered as final as the appeal process has been concluded.”

This has created a groundswell of comment (“Fierce opposition to rezoning of farm land”, Bulletin, June 20). Siegi and Irene Juhnke wrote a lengthy letter to the Rezone Appeal Committee, Mayor Patricia de Lille, Premier Helen Zille, and MECs Anton Bredell and Alan Winde (“Battle for the city’s breadbasket”, Bulletin, June 22).

“Everyone knows about the Cape Winelands. Mention Elgin and people think of apples but few people are aware of where their vegetables come from,” says Ms Juhnke after hearing the outcome of the appeal.

Dirk Smit, in his capacity as chairperson of the General Appeals Committee, says the applicants and objectors were informed of the decision on June 22. The reasons were as follows:

* The proposed development aligns with the principles in and contributes to achieving objectives set out in the Integrated Development Plan, Economic Growth Strategy and Social Development Strategy.

* The application has been evaluated against and complies with the Cape Town Spatial Development Framework and the Cape Flats District Plan.

* The property is located within the Urban Edge.

* The proposal is consistent with the approved Development Framework for Oaklands City (September 2015).

* Having had regard to information made available in the EIA process the potential adverse impact on the surrounding natural and built environment will be sufficiently mitigated by the conditions of approval imposed.

* Engineering services infrastructure is or will be made available, through a services agreement between the City and the applicant, to support the proposed development in a phased manner.

* The approval of this application does not negatively impact on any existing rights and will be considered to be a general enhancement of the area.

* The application does not lack desirability, and thus complies with the approval requirements of Section 36 of the Land Use Planning Ordinance.

* The proposed development would result in a more optimal/ economic use of the subject property.

Known for being outspoken on issues of land distribution, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) provincial chairperson, Bernard Joseph, said they reject and strongly oppose rezoning the PHA. “The consequences will threaten the livehoods of emerging farmers and their workers, food security and seriously damage the aquifer. This is another attempt by the DA to develop stolen land, which must be used to empower upcoming farmers and not enrich developers,” says Mr Joseph.

“This area is protected and eco-sensitive farm land contributing and providing food in Cape Town. Philippi is important to Cape Town communities in terms of food, water as well as social, cultural and heritage value. We are concerned that 80% of communities don’t have enough food to eat because of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Over 20% of fresh produce from the PHA is sold by hawkers and spaza shops in poorer areas. With the current rising fuel and food costs, the PHA is ideally located close to the city and this is important against increasing food prices,” says Mr Joseph.

He adds that small-scale farmers need more land to make a living. “It does not make sense to reduce the land through rezoning. Also, the Cape Flats Aquifer forms part of an integrated underground water system covering 630 square kilometres and mostly located underneath the Cape Flats, which is mostly covered by tar and concrete. The aquifer holds enough fresh water to supply the city with 30% of its potable water needs,” says Mr Joseph.

He says a 2012 study by Rooftops and the African Food Security Network found that the horticultural area will be in extreme risk of food insecurity and that low-income households will suffer the most.

“We urge communities to unite and fight against the rezoning. The City has over 20 000 pockets of land to develop and we hope that the DA will now back off on their evil plan to rezone the area.”

Rob Small of the Food and Garden National Trust and co-manager of Abalimi Bezekhaya is strongly in support of the opposition to building on the PHA. “I am assisting to mobilise the black family farming movement to stop this mayoral madness,” says Mr Small.

Other leading personalities and commentators who have raised objections include Jane Battersby-Lennard, an urban geographer at the University of Cape Town’s African Centre for Cities who was recently awarded the 2017 Premio Daniel Carasso prize and who wrote the Food Systems report for the City of Cape Town; Nazeer Sonday, chairman of the PHA Schaapkraal Civic and Environmental Association, who has appealed to the Public Protector and leads the fight against the development; Len Swimmer representing the Greater Cape Town Civic Association (GCTCA) who has also sub-
mitted an appeal to the Public Protector and Professor Yongxin
Xu, Unesco groundwater chair based at the University of the Western Cape, who has made a longitudinal study of the Cape Flats Aquifer (CFA) and PHA relevance to the CFA.

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