City of Cape Town in clash over wine farm housing project

Cape Times
30 January 2015

THREATENED VALLEY: Glendirk, one of Constantias historic farms, with grade one heritage status, is to be cut up for housing. Now the community is to take the city to court for approving the move, which it says rides roughshod over city policy. Photo: Michael Walker

THE Constantia community is to take the City of Cape Town to court after it gave the green light for a housing development to be built on a grade one heritage wine farm in Constantia’s famed valley of the vines.

The 54-hectare farm, Glendirk, lies to the west of the M3 at the foot of Wynberg Hill, and has two large houses built by Sir Herbert Baker. About two-thirds of the land is under vineyards.

The Constantia Property Owners’ Association says in approving the rezoning and subdivision of the farmland, to make way for luxury housing, the city rode roughshod over the recommendations of its own officials who said the development should not be approved. The association maintains the city has also ignored its own policies.

In spite of the officials’ recommendations, the city’s mayoral committee and mayor, Patricia de Lille, recommended to the council that the application be approved.

The association has filed court papers to have the council’s decision reviewed and set aside. The city and the landowners, Glendirk Estate (Pty) Ltd, have said they will oppose the court action.

The SA Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) has identified the wine farm as a cultural landscape with grade one status because its heritage qualities are “so exceptional that they are of national significance”.

John Hesom, chairman of the association, said yesterday the city council had ignored its own heritage resources department, which had recommended that the application for rezoning and subdivision be refused.

The reason was that the proposed development would have a negative impact on the historical value of a grade one heritage site, identified as an integral part of the Cape winelands cultural landscape with exceptional qualities of national significance.

Hesom says in court papers the councillors ignored the |fact that the application for rezoning was in conflict with the Land Use Planning Ordinance. The city’s land use management department has recommended that the application be refused.

The proposal for the Glendirk land also did not comply with the Cape Town Spatial Development Framework, the Southern District Plan or the Constantia-Tokai Local Area Growth Management Plan.

“What directed the mayor and mayoral committee to recommend approval… and what directed the city councillors to vote in favour of the application?” Hesom asked.

The property owners’ association is also angry that the city council failed to notify it of the city’s decision, although the association had formally objected to the application.

Before going before the mayoral committee, the application had gone before the Spatial Planning, Environment and Land Use Management Committee (Spelum).

Court papers said councillor Joy McCarthy, deputy chair of Spelum, had recommended the application be approved, despite policy objectives.

The city council was asked to comment but had not replied by late yesterday.

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