South Africa

Legal fight for Philippi Horticultural Area to begin at Western Cape High

Legal fight for Philippi Horticultural Area to begin at Western Cape High

Cape Town - The legal battle over the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) starts today in the Western Cape High Court.

The PHA Food and Farming Campaign will be arguing for the preservation of a key piece of agricultural land in the City’s jurisdiction that is under threat from proposed developments.

The case will challenge the administrative decisions made by Local Development, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell, his department and the City to rezone a part of the PHA for mixed-use development.

Campaign chairperson Nazeer Sonday said: “The PHA is precious. It is under threat and we need to protect this area. Every single acre has a purpose. Every time politicians say they  care about the PHA, they also seem to want to pave over a portion of it. We are saying: enough is enough. This is why we are now turning to the court.”

The campaign and Sonday are the two applicants in this case. The 13 respondents include MECs and their departments, as well as the City.

This case is the first against five different developments which, when combined, would eliminate a third of the PHA’s remaining 3 000 hectares of urban farmland. 

The case against Oakland City Development Company (Pty) Ltd consists of a review of four development decisions and a request for a protection order for the whole of the PHA.

The campaign’s legal representatives will argue that the decisions taken regarding the proposed developments ignored several studies highlighting the benefits of the PHA. This includes studies highlighting its role in local food security, recharging the Cape Flats Aquifer, the maintenance of the urban edge, the PHA’s heritage value and its land reform potential.

The case also considers the question of whose jurisdiction it is to make decisions about the PHA – whether it lies with the national Department of Agriculture – and if the land should be considered “agricultural” under the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act. 

The campaign will argue that the City and the province should have regarded their constitutional obligations of co-operative governance and respected the mandate of the Department of Agriculture to ensure food security and protect this “unique and irreplaceable” agricultural land.

The campaign believes that the environmental impact assessment reports, for instance, failed to adequately investigate and assess impacts related to the Cape Flats Aquifer, food security, climate change and land reform. The campaign believes the decision-makers have also not considered the cumulative impact of proposed developments on the area.

Sonday said: “It is time we hold our politicians and decision-makers accountable for the impact of their decisions on our future. We believe all the relevant information was not considered by the decision-makers.”

The Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (Wessa) endorsed the campaign.

Patrick Dowling of the Wessa governance panel said: “In order to mitigate the effects of climate change… custodianship of water resources and local food security has to be amplified, not compromised. More than a thousand local authorities globally have already declared climate emergencies, many this year, and such a motion will be considered by Cape Town soon.”

@MarvinCharles17

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Cape Argus