The legal battle over the Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) starts today in the Western Cape High Court. A Cape Argus report notes 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 & 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. 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 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.

Full Cape Argus report (subscription needed)