Farming in the Philippi Horticultural Area : The facts


On the 22nd July, through ‘Twitter’, one Gareth Pearson asked Patricia De Lille (Mayor of the City of Cape Town) and Helen Zille (Western Cape Premier) the questionhow can a city/prov pushing *‘110% green’ make such questionable decisions around foodsecurity and the PHA? (Philippi Horticultural Area)

The response from Helen Zille (Western Cape Premier) was: “There are huge tracts of land formally in the PHA that have not been farmed for decades. Please get the facts.”

* (110% Green is an initiative of the Western Cape Government calling on organisations to commit to the Green Economy)


The background:

On 29 May an attempt, sponsored by the mayoral committee (MAYCO) member for Economic, Environmental & Spatial Planning (EE&SP), to remove all authority from sub-councils concerning land use planning applications, and with it the public’s right to participate in the decision-making process, was only thwarted by a number of councillors refusing to approve the measure. The matter has not gone away. It was on MAYCO’s agenda for the 16th of this month but has been postponed until August.

Now we learn that at the MAYCO meeting on the 16th of this month the same EE&SP member persuaded the mayor and her colleagues to overturn a decision taken last November regarding the most productive & fertile part of the Phillipi Horticultural Area (PHA).

At their November 2012 meeting MAYCO considered – AND TURNED DOWN – an application for an amendment to the then recently approved Cape Town Spatial Development Framework to alter the urban edge line and permit a change of designation from ‘agriculture areas of significant value’ to ‘urban development’ for an area of 281 ha in the south-west quadrant of PHA, so that a middle and lower income suburb can be built there. This application was not supported by the vast majority of the City’s departments or by the then EE&SP MAYCO member, nor, significantly, by the Western Cape Departments of Agriculture and Sustainable Resource Management who wrote jointly: “ … it is clear that all anticipated growth of the urban footprint for Cape Town, can be accommodated within the demarcated urban edge. In terms of the findings of the Draft Evaluation of Developable Land within the Urban Edge (August 2010), a study conducted by the City of Cape Town, there is approximately 11,000 ha of land available within the urban edge until 2021. This application is therefore a deviation from the agreed upon spatial vision for the City of Cape Town. The (application) area is situated in an intensively cultivated (irrigated) and mining area and represents a significant portion of the PHA. The loss of high potential & unique agricultural land and amendment of the Structure Plan are not supported by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture.

The comment about other suitable land for housing was also set out clearly last October in the City’s report ‘The role of the Phillipi Agricultural Area in securing the future of the City’. That report also dealt extensively with the value of the PHA as a food and mineral source and noted there are mining rights over a sizeable portion of the area in question.

There are primarily two areas for which applications have been entered. An application for an amendment to the recently approved Cape Town Spatial Development Framework to alter the urban edge line and permit a change of designation from ‘agriculture areas of significant value’ to ‘urban development’ in the South-West quadrant of the PHA. The other application was for the South-East quadrant . Both of which are dealt with below.

South-West quadrant application erven no’s:
539; 541-545; 554-558; 572; 574; 576; 578; 605-607; 609-617; 622; 626; 628; 630; 632; 634; 662; 664; 1932 and 1933

South-East quadrant application erven no’s:
579- 582; 587-591; 637-641; 652-654; 657-658; remainder erven 651 and portions of remainder erven 648, 650 Philippi Schaapkraal.



Using satellite imagery and City of Cape Town resources one has a clear and very telling visual perspective of the applicable areas:

South-West quadrant

South-West quadrant

South-East Quadrant















From the Satellite imagery one can clearly see that the South-West quadrant is extensively used for farming activity, whilst the South-East quadrant not so, BUT there’s good reason for this. The South-East quadrant contains significant tracks of land which have been designated as containing critical biodiversity and ecological support areas.

By looking at these areas with respect to agriculture, conservation and biodiversity requirements, neither of these applications comply with the tenets of the Cape Town Spatial Development Framework or the  ‘Cape Flats District Plan’!

Sources and reference:

Analysis by Gavin Smith
Deputy Chair – Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance

7 comments to Farming in the Philippi Horticultural Area : The facts

  • Gio

    Ask the Mayor what she had for supper…a cement brick or a green salad? The City needs to support and spend money on developing more farms to sustain our much needed food sources. You cant eat a brick!! More and more farmers are needed for our future not backhands from greedy property developers to officials in power. These Officials in power including the Mayor work for us and not the other way around. Leave Phillipi for farming as it is and stop the urban creep.

  • Charmaine Wasdell

    I am about to become part owner of a 21476m2 tract of land in Phillipi, transfer of ownership is already in the process of being completed. This land is being passed down through my family – third generation. It has been classified as agricultural land and has not been farmed for at least 50 years. Would the DA be interested in any way in renting for farming purposes?

  • Alison Muller

    The north-west quadrant of Philippi does not have suitable and/or adequate water. Land Developers should be negotiating with these landowners. Then the food basket is preserved and housing demands met. The City of Cape Town, however, has been hampering the landowners and advising them that the Spatial Development Framework Plan will never be amended for these landowners.

  • arthur r f vergotine

    I fully support the notion that the planned housing project on fertile agricultural land will not be in the interest of the people of Cape Town. Such plans should be opposed vigorously. If need be,legal action must be taken to stop the Mayor of Cape Town and the Premier of the Western Cape to execute their plans.

  • Nicola

    With the world moving towards a crisis around food security, and moving away from global solutions, we should be protecting our micro farmers and loking at how to reinforce this as a system within our urban fabric. Densify existing built fabric. We do not need any more urban sprawl.

  • Cathy

    I cannot understand why the city does not focus on increasing density and developing Wingsfield and Youngsfield and other large tracts which I believe are available before it starts anything new like this. Is it just another case of some kind of ‘hubris’ (like the WesCape plan) “I will make my mark on this city whether people lie it or not”? Or is it that developers pay for the privilege of building on new land at scale? Thank you for this detail but I still feel very confused.

  • Barbara

    It is instructive to see how US cities are imploding as a result of bad planning – and also how they are responding.. check out

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