The PHA is defined as “unique Agricultural Land” in terms of the National Policy on the Protection of High Potential and Unique Agricultural Land (2006), that is: land that is or can be used for producing specific high value crops.
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture commissioned a study in July 2017 to develop a Socio-Economic Agricultural Plan for the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA). The study was initiated in response to growing stakeholder concern about the lack of policy certainty regarding land use and the protected area status of the PHA. The tender for the study was awarded to Indego Consulting, which led a consortium of specialist firms and individuals.
The Indego team was required to review the significance of the PHA in terms of agricultural production, the natural environment and its broader socio-economic role and contribution. The study was located within the context of the negative impact of climate change and severe drought on agricultural production within the Western Cape.
The Indego team adopted a participatory approach to the research and engaged a broad range of stakeholders throughout the PHA value-chain. Research findings were informed by a farmer survey, as well as an extensive literature, legislation and policy review.
The remaining “core” of the PHA constitutes about 1 884 hectares of agricultural land within the Cape Flats District of the City of Cape Town (CCT). The “greater” PHA area, comprising 3168.65ha, includes a broad range of both formal and informal land uses, including residential and industrial, creating so-called “buffer areas” around the core PHA. There are nine informal settlements within the “greater” PHA area, with only one located within the “core”.
In the past, a broadly-held and long-established policy consensus was in place that the greater PHA is unique and should be retained for horticulture, sand mining and silica sand mining. However, since 1988 a sequence of planning decisions has led to a reduction in the core PHA footprint. In recent years, the policy certainty around the land uses of the PHA has been further eroded by:
• inadequate policing of zoning scheme regulations, resulting in an intrusion of non-conforming land uses in areas on the fringe of the PHA;
• precedent-setting land development applications in the southern quadrants of the PHA; and,
• amendments to the City of Cape Town’s SDF and urban edge in 2011 and 2014.
This has placed the PHA under severe stress owing to a changing urban edge and rezoning of land from agricultural to mixed use. The remaining farm land is under pressure from illegal dumping, conflicting land uses, winter flooding and safety and security concerns. There is a lack of proactive management of the underlying Cape Flats Aquifer (CFA). Encroachment of industrial, informal and residential land uses increases the risk of aquifer contamination and decreases the available recharge area due to natural vegetation being replaced with impermeable concrete.
The implementation of this PHA Plan must happen. The PHA is an urban asset that contributes to the City’s water resilience, inclusivity, food security and sustainability. It is an asset that has value for all City citizens and especially the agricultural sector and those that live, work, visit and invest in the PHA. The failure to implement the Plan will result in the further deterioration and loss of the PHA. The public sector has a legislative and policy mandate to protect, manage and regulate this land owing to its environmental, agricultural and socio-economic significance. However, the public sector cannot do this alone. The socio-economic and environmental context of the PHA requires the participation of the private sector, organised civil society and communities to protect and defend the PHA and support sustainable and appropriate economic activity. This requires a social compact that will focus on the improved management, regulation, safety, social and appropriate economic development of the PHA. It requires stakeholders to move forward together based on policy and planning certainty that the PHA is to be retained for horticultural and compatible sand mining purposes.
To read more about PHA findings (download the documents below):
- PHA Socio-Economic Agricultural Plan (2018) - FINAL
- Annexure A: PHA Survey of Natural Resources - FINAL
- Annexure B: PHA Spatial Planning Component - FINAL
- Annexure C: Vegetable Production Overview in South Africa, Western Cape and PHA - FINAL
- Annexure D: Summary list of broader PHA stakeholders consulted - FINAL
- PHA Socio-Economic Agricultural Plan (2018)
- Annexure A: PHA Survey of Natural Resources
- Annexure B: PHA Spatial Planning Component
- Annexure C: Vegetable Production Overview in South Africa, Western Cape and PHA
- Annexure D: Summary list of broader PHA stakeholders consulted
- PHA Stakeholder Feedback session - 24 April 2018