Community views plans for Swartklip

Mitchell’s Plain residents and business owners are hopeful that they will be included in the plans to develop the Swartklip property, which is owned by the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA).

This emerged at a two-day programme held on the site, between Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha on Tuesday October 16 and Wednesday October 17.

“We should not be given shares but we can buy them so ACSA knows we are just as invested as they are,” said pharmacist Ebrahim Ismail.

“We have a vested interest in buying and contributing to the social environment of Mitchell’s Plain.”

Luvo Mangcotywa, from Khayelitsha, said he was glad the corporation bought the land.

“If it were not for them, nothing would happen to this land now.”

He also cautioned that to prevent any protests and upset residents close to the site should be included in work opportunities.

“We must be educated about these developments. It should be easily communicated to us and we should feel empowered to contribute,” he said.

Melanie Katanga, from Tafelsig, said the presentations looked interesting and agreed that development was necessary but that it lacked a local element.

“I understand what this lady is saying to me but maybe my neighbour may not. More education is needed around this development and should attract locals and not foreigners,” she said.

Ms Katanga said residents needed to be informed about the ecology and environment around them, so that they may appreciate and look after it.

Emily Yartey, a social worker for Cape Town Association for the Physically Disabled, said access for people with disabilities and recreation activities were important. She said affordable housing opportunities was also a priority.

John Johns, from Mandalay, said this development would be good for the surrounding communities.

“This is a new beginning, which could contribute to the development of Mandalay and Montclaire,” he said.

Development of the former Denel site, includes the realignment of the runway, followed by a new flight path, with aeroplanes flying over this 500-hectare track of land.

Deidre Davids, senior manager for ACSA Cape Town corporate affairs, said activities on the site had to be compatible with aircraft noise as they would be situated within the new flight path.

“It is essential that the communities around Swartklip have opportunities to talk about their needs, their priorities and what should be included in the development footprint and programme for the area,” she said.

Representatives of ACSA Cape Town explained why ACSA had bought the land, and Infinity Environment consultants briefed visitors about the upcoming environmental impact assessment process.

False Bay College, tenants on the site, showed their plans for a broader training facility.

Ms Davids said the most important part of the programme was for visitors to record their comments on video or write their contributions down on paper.

Ms Davids said: “We are still some way from actual development of the site. Right now, we need to understand what the various pockets of opportunities are. Once this process is concluded, which could take up to three years, we will have a clear vision for the site.

“We are committed to the community’s participation on the project to ensure that their views and inputs are incorporated into the formulation of the site’s future vision,” she said.

She added that the site is a strategic asset and is the last significant parcel of land of its kind in the area, which could be developed.

“It thus presents an immense opportunity to ultimately, among others, create much-needed employment. Notably, realising that it is still a while away,” she said.