Minister turns down development application in Philippi Horticultural Area

Media Statement – 13 January 2014


As the competent authority in terms of the Land Use Planning Ordinance, 1985 (LUPO) I have decided not to approve the application by MSP Developments for the proposed amendment of the City of Cape Town’s Spatial Development Framework (CTSDF) in terms of section 4(7) of LUPO, to change the designation of certain land in the south-western sector of the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) from agricultural land of significant value to urban development and for the amendment of the City’s urban edge. The land concerned is Erven 539, 541-545, 554-558, 572, 574, 575, 578, 605-607, 609-617, 622, 626, 628, 630, 632, 634, 662, 664, 1932, and 1933 Philippi, Schaapkraal.

The PHA has its origins in the 1970s, when Central Government identified the Cape Flats’ glass-sand deposits as a strategic resource to be protected in national interest i.t.o. the first Physical Planning Act, no 88 of 1967. During the participation process for the declaration of the glass-sand deposits i.t.o. Act 88 of 1967, the Municipal authorities motivated that, while they supported the glass-sand protection, the area was equally important as the “breadbasket” for the Cape Flats and wider, and they obtained Central Government approval to include the horticultural importance of the land into the proclamation.

The application is for an area of 281 ha, comprising 38 privately owned properties located in the south-western sector of the PHA. The application is for a range of urban development types (including a mixed use component), including:

  • A mixed use corridor of ± 30 ha along Strandfontein Road;

  • A commercial node of ± 10 ha in the south-western corner of the site, with a ± 30 000 m² GLA);

  • Residential development of ± 150 ha (± 6 000 dwelling units), including a mix of general residential, single residential, and including a 50m wide strip of high density development along the southern boundary of the PHA;

  • The remaining area is earmarked for institutional facilities (± 7 ha) and public open space, including a number of environmental corridors.

The main reasons for my decision were:

  1. The agricultural land in the south-western sector of the PHA was observed to be productive and a provider of many job opportunities. The demarcation of the productive agricultural land by the Western Cape’s Department of Agriculture remains a very relevant consideration. The south-western sector has the most intensively farmed and productive agricultural land in the PHA – 64% of the application area is currently being actively farmed, whilst a further 20% has also been under cultivation in the past seven years.

  1. There is a definite gradation and division between poorer quality water areas in the northern sector of the PHA and areas of higher water quality in the southern sector, associated with the presence of the Cape Flats Aquifer. Geo-physical and climatic conditions make the southern sector of the PHA potentially the best horticultural land in the area. The PHA is located on an aquifer, available as a free water source for horticulture. The quantity and quality of this groundwater is best in the south of the PHA. The southern PHA areas are also closest to the cooling coastal breezes, a favourable condition in the hot dry summers.

  1. The northern sector of the PHA is under severe pressure from urban expansion (particularly the growth of informal urban settlements) and faltering agriculturally. The connectivity advantages of the north-western sector of the PHA with adjoining urban settlements are preferable for urban expansion to the areas in the southern sector.

  1. The PHA’s “agricultural viability line” as defined by the Department of Agriculture should therefore be adhered to for the purposes of urban development applications in the short term.

  1. An area of 572 ha in the -eastern sector of the PHA (that had never been farmed) was re-designated for urban development in 2011 and remains to be developed. To release any more of the actively farmed land for development purposes would not be responsible governance by either the City of Cape Town or the Western Cape Government.

Accordingly, by agreement between my Department and the Provincial Department of Agriculture, the northern sector of the PHA should be the focus of an updated viability study, which may lead to the “agricultural viability line” being redefined in collaboration with the City of Cape Town. Such a review process may open the possibility of releasing some well-located agricultural reservation land for urban development, the scale of which remains to be determined.

The City of Cape Town is facing many competing needs, of which the pressures are also felt strongly within the PHA area. The need for secure food sources, to prioritize economic development and at the same time provide for the safety of communities through long term spatial planning, are but some of the aspects putting pressure on this particular and unique area within the City boundaries. These pressures are acknowledged, but at the same time it is necessary to point out that any new location for urban development in the PHA area, should be well placed, not depriving the area and the affected citizens of a valuable food production source.

Anton Bredell

Minister of Local Government,

Environmental Affairs and Development Planning


1 comment to Minister turns down development application in Philippi Horticultural Area

  • Alistair

    Why isnt land in Durbanville been used for low cost housing/RDP than horticultural land that provides Cape Town with fresh vegetables and fruit

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