Durbanville forum to appeal controversial farmland property development

Cape Argus
10 March 2015

The Durbanville Community Forum is all that stands in the way of developers who want to build on environmentally valuable farmland. The forum has applied for leave to appeal the Western Cape High Court’s decision to let the development go ahead.

The proposed development has the potential to create hundreds of jobs and generate millions of rand for the area.

A ruling by the High Court has paved the way for the multifaceted development of the farm Uitkamp in Durbanville to proceed.

Judge Dennis Davis dismissed the forum’s application to review the approval for the development given by Anton Bredell, MEC of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, in 2013.

Judge Davis ruled that Bredell’s approval of the development and his dismissal of objections against it were well considered and based on expert opinion.

He found the MEC had taken into account all factors pertaining to the agricultural potential of the land, protection of wetland areas and changes to the City of Cape Town’s urban edge policy – the basis of the court challenge.

Boetie Louw, on behalf of the AFM Louw Family Trust, the developer, said plans and conditions would ensure the protection of wildlife in river and wetland areas during the development of Clara Anna Fontein, which forms part of the Uitkamp farm and includes a manor house, conference facilities and game area.

The development will comprise upmarket housing, group housing and a private high school.

Colin Green, a director of the Rabie Property Group, welcomed the ruling, saying “a thorough, due process has been vindicated”.

“We are confident Uitkamp can set a benchmark for balanced development with commercial, social and environmental benefits that significantly outweigh any possible disadvantages.”

Louw said a study by Urban-Econ Development Economists had calculated that the development would bring significant increases in business sales, jobs, community benefits and an additional contribution to the economy.

“Their 2008 figures, which have been converted to 2015 numbers, show that during the construction phase the direct benefits will include R3 billion in additional new business sales, an additional Gross Geographic Product of R165 million and 4 673 employment opportunities.”

However, forum has applied for leave to appeal the court’s decision.

It said while it supported social, moral and sustainable economic development, it would not support any development that ignored the environmental constraints of a subject property, as protected by the constitution, for the benefit of present and future generations.

“What is of real concern is that a school will be built on both high potential soils and delineated wetlands, and the forum wonders what sort of legacy it will leave for future generations of schoolchildren as greater awareness evolves of our ever decreasing, scarce and irreplaceable natural resources. Once these resources are developed, they are damaged forever.”

 

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