Court battle looms over Durbanville property development on farm land

Cape Town’s planning and environment committee has postponed for at least a month consideration of a controversial application to develop parts of a historic Durbanville farm, Uitkamp.

The 127ha property, between the Durbanville suburb of Aurora and the Clara Anna Fontein Private Game Reserve, is outside the 2012 urban edge alignment and some of the proposed development – 700 houses, a retirement village, a private high school, an open space network, a small private nature reserve and upgrading of the conference centre – would be on medium and high-potential agricultural land.

Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell’s environmental approval for the development is being challenged in the Western Cape High Court by the Durbanville Community Forum, which represents 13 ratepayers’ associations.

The would- be developer, the AFM Louw Family Trust, also has to get planning approval from the city to rezone and subdivide the property, as well as consent use for those parts of the development that would not comply with rezoning regulations.

The city would have to amend the urban edge as the land lies outside the urban edge in terms of the Spatial Development Framework of 2012.

Yesterday, the city’s spatial planning, environment and land use management committee inspected the site, and the application was on the agenda for a special meeting afterwards. However, the matter was postponed almost immediately.

The committee heard that there was new information relating to the agricultural potential of this land and comments by the Department of Agriculture were awaited.

Also, although the city now held delegated authority to take decisions relating to the general structure plan, some categories of development application had to be put to the province for its recommendation before any decision could be made.

The committee was told by the city’s legal adviser that the matter was before the high court and the city should wait and see what the MEC’s response was to the application.

Chairman Christo Kannenberg noted that after the committee had considered the matter, its recommendation would go to the mayoral committee and the full council.

The city is the second respondent in the high court matter. Garreth Bloor, mayoral committee member for economic, environmental and spatial planning, said it had not yet been decided whether the city would oppose the application.

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