GCTCA comments on the proposed withdrawal of the 2001 Peninsula Urban Edge Study

 

Dear Sir,

The Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance (GCTCA), consists of an alliance of over 160 community and civic organisations and ratepayer bodies – we are appalled at the current scrapping of pertinent and important planning legislation, which protects the environment and secures the delicate balance, preventing unwanted and unnecessary concrete encroachment. Please find attached our comments, also copied below and we would appreciate an acknowledgement of this e-mail and attachment as well as some coherent sane explanation to the proposed withdrawal of perfectly good protective rights of the environment.

Sincerely,
Len Swimmer
Deputy Chairman
Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance

 


09 December 2014
To e-mail: future.capetown@capetown.gov.za

Dear Sir,

Proposed withdrawal of the 2001 Peninsula Urban Edge Study

The Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance (GCTCA), consists of an alliance of over 160 community and civic organisations and ratepayer bodies – we are appalled at the current scrapping of pertinent and important planning legislation, which protects the environment and secures the delicate balance, preventing unwanted and unnecessary concrete encroachment.

We refer to the “Have Your Say Planning Policy Rationalisation” advertisement and press release issued by the City of Cape Town on 06 November 2014 in which it is proposed ‘to further reduce red tape by scrapping old policies’.

One of the plans proposed to be withdrawn is the 2001 Peninsula Urban Edge Study (PUES) because it is claimed to be outdated and superceded by the Cape Town Spatial Development Framework (CTSDF) and the Southern District Plan adopted during the process accompanying the introduction of the Cape Town Zoning Scheme in March 2013.

These reasons for withdrawing the PUES are unconvincing and will result in consequences wholly unintended by the authors of this proposal.

The PUES is anything but superceded. It provides the essential detail for land use planning in the vicinity in which the urban edge demarcation lies which is wholly absent from the broad brush vision document which the CTSDF represents and is hardly more detailed in the Southern District Plan. The PUES was the result of extremely detailed craftsmanship over a considerable period of time by competent professionals, with significant well-informed input from local communities, setting out principles, policies and geographical restraints in respect of management zones such as Urban Transition zones and Non-urban zones along the demarcated urban edge line.

We appreciate the pressures that the City is under to cope with the unrelenting influx of persons wishing to live in the metropole and the blandishments offered by unscrupulous developers in terms of increased rates revenue that the City will garner from every new upmarket housing development. However, it is the duty of the custodians of this beautiful part of Earth to safeguard its natural assets for the countless generations to come.

This task is anything but easy when there is apparent conflict in land-use priorities between manufactured capital (a proposed development) and natural capital (the conservation of a natural asset). However ecological thresholds do exist in nature and they should be respected; that is what the PUES does. To leave the decision on whether or not new development should be approved to an individual without the firm, reasoned guidelines which the PUES represents is sheer folly. The pressures that will be exerted on that person are too enormous to contemplate.

Nor is the PUES outdated. Not only are there still 7 years to run before its 20 year horizon is reached; without the PUES in place Table Mountain will lose its World Heritage Status as part of the Cape Floristic Region – we feel sure that this outcome is an unintended consequence that the authors of the proposal to dump the PUES have not thought through.

When this region was first evaluated for the honour of World Heritage Status the World Heritage Committee expressed its concern about the considerable urban interface with the proposed floristic region and the significant challenges for conservation management it posed, particularly in relation to control of access and fire. The Committee adjudged that the urban edge needed to be clearly defined and legislatively enforced before the granting of World Heritage Status could be considered. This shortcoming was addressed by the adoption of the PUES. Scrapping of the PUES will endanger this Status, which is a huge international tourism drawcard. Moreover it is likely to invoke the considerable ire of the national government who, rightly, are very sensitive about South Africa’s image abroad.

In short the proposal to scrap the 2001 Peninsula Urban Edge Study is shortsighted, not properly thought through, and will result in the permanent and massive degradation of the natural attributes that make this Peninsula an area envied worldwide as somewhere worthwhile to live.

Len Swimmer
Len Swimmer
Deputy Chairman

 

 

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