Hold your horses!

2017-06-20 06:01
Some of the reportedly endangered species at the Racecourse in KenilworthPHOTO: Ismail Wambi

Some of the reportedly endangered species at the Racecourse in KenilworthPHOTO: Ismail Wambi

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The Friends of the Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area want the City of Cape Town to revise the recently approved development at the racecourse.

Members say they are appealing the approval because they fear the development would have a negative environmental impact on different species in the area. They also say the community was not properly engaged and thus their concerns were not taken into consideration during the approval process.

The proposal was approved in April.

The development is expected to lead to more than 400 flats, a hotel, shops and ­offices.

According to a report the Kenilworth racecourse comprises 99.2 hectares. The portion marked for redevelopment is about 7.6 ­hectares.

This section will be subdivided into 11 portions, including two new roads, flats in high-rise buildings, shops, a hotel, a restaurant and facilities for different activities, including the horse racing.

The report specifies that the application was advertised in local media and registered notices of the application were sent directly to affected people, including the Kenilworth Residents’ Association and ward councillors, in April last year.

Environmental scientist Dr Clive McDowell says the City and the developer should have done a full, integrated environmental management assessment as this process would have allowed for inputs from all interested and affected parties and not just the developer and neighbours.

He says: “There are many other reasons why we are very worried, not least of which is the seemingly ‘stealthily’ manner in which this is happening and the fact that certain conditions set in the 1999 approval for the then development have still not been complied with.

“The area is the last pristine remnant of Cape sand fynbos, which is critically endangered. There is only 14% of the indigenous plants left; 34 are listed as red data species. Thirteen different amphibian species occur in the conservation area, of which the micro frog and Cape platanna are critically ­endangered.

“Residents can still appeal the approval but the whole development has been passed. This is a sad situation.

“Just one interesting aside, with all this development – where would all the parking go?”

Another member, Margaret Kahle, says not only would the impact of residential units, a hotel, shops and traffic on the “sensitive ecological area [be] huge but the enlargement of the quarantine station and grassy area within the race track is a clear violation of the existing zoning of the area.

“No cognisance has been taken of the need to ensure the water quality of the wetlands and in general throughout the conserved area. The endemic and critically endangered micro frog and platanna require the existing pristine water conditions.”

“This is the jewel of the sadly last few remnants of the critically endangered but incredibly rich Cape sand fynbos. Within this small area of about 52 hectors there occur well over 300 indigenous plant species,” Kahle says.

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, says the proposed development will not have a negative impact on the biophysical environment.

“Confirmation was received from the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning that the proposal does not require an environmental authorisation in terms of the National Environmental Management Act. Furthermore, previous environmental authorisation issued in terms of the Environmental Conservation Act for the 1999 rezoning application for Kenilworth Racecourse and its conditions remains applicable,” he says.

Herron explains that the proposed development will take place entirely outside of the existing horse quarantine area and fynbos conservation area. The existing conditions of rezoning approval relating to the proposed portion remain applicable.

He says no new permanent structures are proposed within the racetrack area.

“Also, the development on site will result in a greater pool of levies available for the maintenance of the biodiversity area,” he adds.


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