Civic groups take aim at Uitkamp

Cape Argus : May 6, 2014

BATTLE CONTINUES

Complaint petition lands on authorities desks

A three-part complaint petition being sent to authorities over a week is the latest salvo in the long-running battle over plans for the historic Uitkamp farm in Durbanville.

The development, controversially approved by the city at its meeting on April 24, from which the opposition ANC was excluded, has become a major local political issue.

It is also part of a general gripe by civic groups, through the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance, about the allegedly pro-development planning policies and decisions by the DA-led city and province. This has also become an election issue.

The petition, compiled by the Durbanville Community Forum, is in response to the nod given by the city to a proposal that involves a complex of about 700 houses, a school and a nature reserve on 127ha on the farm, between Clara Anna Fontein and Aurora. The piece of land includes a significant wetland.

The forum, an umbrella body of several groups of ratepayers, has already filed a high court review application in respect of the province’s November 2011 environmental authorisation for this project.

It unsuccessfully appealed to Speaker Dirk Smit to have the matter removed from the council agenda on April 24. This was despite a legal recommendation to the city’s spatial planning, environment, and land use management committee last year that any decision be put on hold until the court action was resolved.

Garreth Bloor, mayoral committee member for economic, environmental and spatial planning, said at the council meeting that the decision had been made by the multiparty environmental planning portfolio committee, that the environmental protection plan for the site had the approval of ‘every department in the city’ and that the wetland would be ‘absolutely protected’ – a claim the forum strongly contests.

The forum’s petition is being sent to mayor Patricia de Lille, as well as city manager Achmat Ebrahim, all councillors ( including Smit) and provincial Planning and Environment MEC Anton Bredell.

The first part of the complaint petition was sent last Tuesday and the second on Friday, with the third part ‘forthcoming within the next few days’, the forum said.

Part one deals with the forum’s belief that there was a lack of due process, as well as maladministration in the decision-making process.

Part two relates to its argument that the approved development poses a general threat to the delineated wetland.

The third part will deal with the forum’s concern about the threat to the medium- and high-potential soils on the property and the environment in general.

The forum told the authorities it believed that each part warranted appropriate intervention – for example, that the decision by the council be rescinded, set aside or declared null and void.

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