Philippi’s destruction of development

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Philippi farms- Cape Town (Table Mountain view)

The dilemma of the planned development of the Philippi Horticultural Area rests on the irony of the PHA Food & Farming area which produces about 80% of Cape Town’s fresh vegetables and being situated in an informal and violently notorious township.

Philippi is one of the largest underdeveloped townships in Cape Town, with a political history dating back to the nineteenth century.  Residents from Transkei and Ciskei, who escaped from the apartheid disputes in their homelands, sought refuge here, in what was then a grazing land.  Over the years Philippi grew to be one of the most significant farming industrial nodes of the Mother City.

With the wetlands being home to over 98 species of birds, livestock and flower farms and an aquifer. Supplying 30% of fresh water to residents -most importantly. The production of about 100 000 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables annually,  highlights how crucial this area is for both food security and the economy of this province and country.

The problem fired up when the City’s planning and Building Management Department attempted to sell land from the Philippi Horticultural Area, for the development of informal settlements.  In 2015, the privately owned Oakland City Development was proposed on 472 hectares, while the U-Vest developers would take up 280 hectares to construct housing and industrial developments.

Residents are however not convinced that the development is for their benefit.  According to Nazeer Sonday, a farmer in Philippi, they have seen academics, spoken to local farmers and formed their own opinion because they live in the area.  They have spoken to food security experts and put out 42 pages of comments and 17 appendices to support their argument. They have just one question, the City ‘why does the City want to rezone the area for housing.’ The City says that it is for the people living in shacks in Philippi who need housing, but actually, it’s not for them, it’s middle-class housing for which you need to have a bond.

The community together with the Food and Farming campaign has vigorously opposed these plans, as they believe the development will adversely affect a portion the most fertile farming area – and dry out the wetlands used for irrigation.  Philippi’s community makes its living by selling a third of their products to small wholesalers and the most prominent retailers such as Woolworths and Pick ‘n Pay. The farms are also vital to the underprivileged residents- since they buy vegetables at a low cost and don’t have to travel long distances to put a meal on their tables. This, I believe is reason enough for the residents to fight and protect their primary resource for income and survival.

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Philippi farms- Cape Town

This seems to be another case of ‘the road to destruction being paved with good intention.’ The City also has the Philippi community’s best interest at heart, by attempting to provide sufficient housing and industrial growth. Keeping to its promise to provide services for its residents as the City noted in the 2012 spatial committee report that “The area does, however, have significant management challenges and urbanisation pressures, most notably competing land demands for housing. Given the nature of the central location of the PHA and the housing need in Cape Town, the PHA is under significant pressure to be developed for residential purposes”.

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Philippi informal settlements
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6 thoughts on “Philippi’s destruction of development”

  1. Often when people try and help, they go in and just want to start helping before actually consulting with the people that they are trying to help, what help they need. Similar America’s policy of bringing democracy and capitalism to the world. End up causing more problems than when you started.

    A doctor doesn’t diagnose without first speaking to the patient about what is wrong and performing some checks.

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    1. I totally agree with you Motlatsi, however I also believe there are procedures to be followed when it comes to developments/ plans as serious as this, it isn’t necessarily a decision made over night. One thing I do know about the City is that they write media releases, informing the public/ residents about upcoming projects, including the budget and the dates etc.

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      1. “One thing I do know about the City is that they write media releases, informing the public/ residents about upcoming projects, including the budget and the dates etc.”

        I would say they engage the community a step before the projects and budgets are drawn up. Otherwise how do they know which projects are needed. Get buy-in from the people you’re servicing before budgets and projects a drawn up.

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      2. Motlatsi Kane, according to Somerset West Ward 84- ” the City uses public feedback, Councillor assessments, risk assessments, research analysis, financial information, service-delivery impact reports, safety considerations and real-time information on the ground to inform our scenario-planning.” Meaning communities are well informed about future plans, which I believe goes as far as having debates and public participation.

        Read more on: https://somersetwestward84.wordpress.com/tag/city-of-cape-town/

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  2. “The community together with the Food and Farming campaign has strongly opposed these plans, as they believe the development will adversely affect a portion the most fertile farming area and dry out the wetlands used for irrigation.”

    Looks like two contradicting versions. But yeah along with consultation and involvement in the process should lead to buy-in. Buy-in also comes with accountability and a sense of ownership of the actual plans.

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