Save the Philippi Horticultural Area!

MSP application area approved by Council 31 July 2013 for urban development

MSP application area approved by Council 31 July 2013 for urban development

The Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) has been in the news lately.

On the 31 July 2013 the City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee (MAYCO) approved the housing development proposed by MSP in the SW corner of the PHA. They ignored the urban edge zoning recommendations by City Planners and others. What has really concerned the PHA and many other citizens of Cape Town is that the City commissioned a study for the area by Dr Jane Battersby due to be publish only in December 2013, which should have been included information before judgement was made. The yet unanswered question “What was the sudden hurry?”.

What is at stake?

The PHA produces 50% of Cape Towns daily fresh vegetables requirement made up of 48 varieties. This is in the centre of the Metropole and has relatively short distances to the Epping market and other food outlets. Food security is a prime basic human requirement in a major City anywhere on the planet. How many other cities in the world have an agricultural area in the middle of its boundaries? This area has been farmed for 150 years and has the oldest Farmers Agricultural Union in the Republic of South Africa.

The PHA members have a reasonable plan for the area, which they have taken about 3 years to formulate with considerable inputs. It includes commercial farming, small scale farming, housing areas, industrial areas and commercial business corridors for the entire area. Local and international studies have been done so that this plan could be put together.

It has been presented to the Mayors office, also to the Provincial MEC of Environment and Planning. The PHA plan highlights that the prime agricultural land is in the southern area over the large aquifer, over and to the north of Mitchell’s Plain. This area is also 2 degrees cooler than the north area of PHA. There would be less water required to water the crops in this area compared to the northern PHA. Also the known ground water quality in the northern areas is not as good due to long term farming, industrial and other developments in adjacent areas. It is known that the water use can still be managed at a reasonable cost to the farmers.

The City has failed in the last 15 years and more, to enforce its zoning bylaws, which has led to random squatting, wetland infilling, dumping of industrial waste, alternative land use, industrial expansion and other social and illegal issues pervading the PHA. This has led to farmers and long-time land owners being uncertain about their designated landuse practise and future. It would almost seem there are certain parties hoping this will continue, so that speculative opportunities exist to develop the area for housing and other uses.

Recently Cape Bird Club, Conservation Committee members helped the City groundtruth the documented Philippi wetlands and even added new boundaries to what was known. This was done with preplanned mapping and by driving and walking around, logging the GPS co ordinates using the existing maps.

Additional information and what you can do?

  1. Add your name to the petition here:  The petition will be handed over to the Provincial MEC of Environment and Planning by the PHA representatives.
  2. Read the Mail and Guardian article from November 2012 about the PHA. 
  3. Read the attached recent study published in April 2013 mentioned at the last WCWF Rondevlei meeting is titled – Salinity of irrigation water in the Philippi farming area of the Cape Flats, Cape Town, South Africa – by CD Ruben Aza-Gnandji, Yongxin Xu, Lincoln Raitt and Jonathan Levy. It is available for download HERE
  4. Watch the YouTube movie which was made recently by Greg Copeland about the PHA and can be viewed at
  5. Nazeer Sonday, a PHA farmer, came to a WCWF meeting in 2009 seeking help and information. He gave a short presentation on what he was seeing happening in the Philippi Agricultural Area. His prime concern as a small scale farmer was what was happening to the Philippi Wetlands. He felt very few people knew what was going on in the fresh food producing area of Cape Town and he wished to highlight some of these critical issues.

Thank you for your support.


Gavin Lawson

Zandvlei Trust

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