Historic farm saved from development

Extract from’ The Constantia Property Owners’ Association newsletter

Glen Dirk farm
This is the view that we are all familiar with taken from the M3 where the tall pines were felled. Glen Dirk farm is in the distance on the other side of Chart Farm.

Last year the CPOA reported to members that the Association had launched a High Court Application in November 2014 for the review and setting aside of a decision taken by the Council of the City of Cape Town in April 2014, whereby an application for the rezoning and subdivision of the historic Glen Dirk Farm was approved for purposes of residential development.  Glen Dirk farm has been recognised by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) as a heritage resource of national significance.

The subdivision and rezoning application was considered by all the City’s specialist departments and in each instance these departments, including Environmental and Heritage Management, recommended against approval.  The reasons were that

  • the application is not consistent with any of the City’s own approved policies,
  • Glen Dirk Farm is integral to one of the most significant agricultural anchors in the Constantia-Tokai Valley, and
  • subdivision would not only reduce arable farmland, but would have a negative impact on the character of the Valley.

The City’s specialist departments also commented that the alienation of portions of the farm to make the remainder viable cannot be used as an argument for the application and also that the alienation of portions of the farm is against the “public good”. Notwithstanding that, Glen Dirk farm is identified by SAHRA as having the highest possible heritage resource grading (Grade I – meaning it is of national significance).
Despite the recommendations of the City’s own specialist departments against approval as well as strong arguments by this Association, the Council of the City approved the application in its entirety after the Mayoral Committee and the Executive Mayor had made a recommendation for approval.
This Association’s High Court application was opposed by the City of Cape Town and the owners of Glen Dirk farm.  There were lengthy delays in the High Court proceedings because the City did not adhere to the Rules of Court.  The owners of Glen Dirk farm also launched a counter-application against this Association’s Executive Committee (ExCo) members with the intention of holding them jointly and severally liable for costs.
We are now delighted to report to our members that after we recently launched an interim application to compel the City to file its answering papers, the City withdrew its opposition to our High Court application and tendered to pay our costs.  The owners of Glen Dirk farm have also withdrawn their opposition and their counter-application against our ExCo members.
This Association’s decision to institute High Court proceedings to have the irrational decision of the Council of the City set aside and our pursuit of these proceedings against resistance from the City and even after the owners of Glen Dirk launched a counter-application against our ExCo members, has now been completely vindicated by the collapse of the City and the owners of Glen Dirk farm in their opposition to our application.
Our members can be assured that this Association will continue to work tirelessly towards the conservation of the historic farms in the Constantia-Tokai Valley and to prevent at all costs their subdivision for residential development.


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