Nearly a decade since the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) Food and Farming Campaign first opposed an application by the City of Cape Town to rezone parts of the agricultural area, the fate of the unique Cape Flats ecosystem still hangs in the balance.
The PHA is in the middle of the Cape Flats and has been farmed for more than 130 years. Proclaimed a horticultural area in 1968, it is a unique ecosystem situated above a natural aquifer that provides water to the farmlands. This in turn protects and recharges the aquifer, allowing water to filter down into the underground system.
“The PHA is the green lung of the city and Cape Town’s ‘spens’. Blessed with an unrivalled micro-climate, productive soils and abundant water, the PHA is irreplaceable,” says Nazeer Sonday, a farmer and activist for the Philippi Horticultural Area Food and Farming Campaign.
The PHA campaign has launched litigation in the Western Cape High Court to review and set aside some of the decisions taken by the Western Cape Provincial Government, as well as the City of Cape Town. It has filed for a review of 12 development permissions, ranging from rezones and environmental impact assessments (EIAs) to urban edge shift challenges and whether the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act (SALA) 70 of 1970 applies to the PHA.