Cape Town passes development buck

Cape Town reconsiders approval for Durbanville property development


Cape Argus


Thursday Mar 17, 2011

The City of Cape Town has opted to let the provincial government decide about the environmental desirability of a controversial development proposed for a farm just outside Durbanville’s urban edge.

The mayoral committee yesterday resolved that it would no longer support a specific development option for the project proposed for the Uitkamp farm, but would instead ask the province to consider the comments made by various city departments when considering the application for environmental authorisation of the development.

In December, Mayco considered development plans for the 127-hectare farm, which lies between the Durbanville suburb Aurora and the Clara Anna Fontein game reserve, and supported a development option which would see 650 homes built on the land which is zoned for agricultural use.

The support was given despite 500 objections being lodged over more than a decade, unfavourable comments made by some city departments, and a city report recommending that the city register its disapproval as part of the environmental impact assessment.

Following Mayco’s decision to support the development, an e-mail war broke out between senior city politicians and objectors to the project.

The matter was subsequently referred back to the city’s legal department.

Yesterday Marian Nieuwoudt, Mayco member for planning and environment, said the latest decision did not amount to an about-turn on the city’s part, and nor had it come about because of public pressure.

“There was a question over whether the city’s input amounted to a decision or a recommendation,” she said.

“The (legal) department recommended that we should make it clear that (the information going to province) is comment as opposed to a recommendation or support.

“Basically, we are confirming that we agree with what is said (in the report containing comments from the city’s line departments).”

Nieuwoudt reiterated that the environmental approval process was only the first step, and that the city would, if the province gave the environmental green light, still consider numerous other applications which would need to be lodged for the development to become a reality.

According to the report that went to Mayco yesterday, these included an application to amend the urban edge, land use and building plan applications, as well as an application for the city to amend its urban edge policy.

Commenting on the latest development, the chairman of the Durbanville Community Forum (DCF), George Sieraha, said that instead of reviewing and rescinding their previous decision, Mayco “simply neutralised the issue by passing it on to province”.

“This is very significant as it could be setting a precedent bombshell,” he said.

“The DCF feels that by Mayco not directly and openly stating that they have withdrawn their previous support, it still now leaves that distinct feeling in the community’s mind that they still support it.”

Sieraha said the forum believed that the only reason “this watered-down” resolution was taken was because of “tremendous pressure exerted by the public”.

“This is by no means over, and the DCF can only caution other forums to track developments in their own areas with a hawk’s eye,” he said.

City politicians, including mayor Dan Plato, were to meet members of the community at a public meeting in the Durbanville Town Hall last night.

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