Cape Town NIMBYs

Pringle Bay
Uptight Pringle

It seems that NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) are a global phenomenon. The Pringle Bay Ratepayers Association near Cape Town, South Africa has voted unanimously to oppose a self-sufficient eco-village on the Buffels River at Pringle Bay consisting of 79 off-grid houses  using rainwater, solar power and gas instead of relying on municipal services. The proposed village would have its own sewerage system.

The 300 prissy, Pringle Bay residents say it would set a precedent for rezoning of smallholdings in the Overstrand, and result in cluster housing developments springing up all over the district. Currently smallholdings are allowed one dwelling only. Simon Nicks of CNDV Africa, the consultants for the proposed eco-village, said yesterday no application had been submitted. They had met the ratepayers association committee and there will be a public meeting this Monday, January 15.

He said the concept was new in South Africa, but there were villages overseas where it worked well.

Ian Cushny, vice-chairman of the ratepayers association, and an environmentalist zealot who campaigns against every change in the area even if it is in the interest of the environment, said yesterday: We’ve already got 700 undeveloped plots in Pringle Bay, which are serviced, so there is no need to subdivide small holdings to create more plots. It would set a massive precedent and the whole of the Hangklip area would be under siege to developers wanting to convert small holdings into housing.

The NIMBYs believe it is inappropriate to build 79 houses on land which is partly a wetland, adjoins a nature reserve and is outside the urban edge. They are sceptical about the self-sufficiency of the proposed village, and believe if the solar power or sewerage systems malfunction, the home owners will demand municipal services, which are already stretched.

Cushny said the Overstrand spatial development framework maintained that it was imperative that future growth of the area be contained within existing urban areas.

Peter Simpson, of the ratepayers association committee, said: We got a unanimous vote from the meeting of about 300 ratepayers that we object to the development.
Simon Nicks said there was no intention to drain the wetland or build below the floodline. The houses would be traditional cottagey Overstrand architecture. Rain water would be harvested, solar power would be used for water heating, lights and fridges, and grey water recycled. Nicks was a trustee of the Development Action Group, an NGO committed to effective urban development that addresses the needs of the very poor. He is a lecturer on Housing and Community Development at the Department of Construction Economics, University of Cape Town and co-ordinated this course in 1994. He also gives lectures at the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, UCT; the Graduate School of Business, UCT; University of the Western Cape; and Cape Technikon. He represented Cape Town at the Environmental Management for African Cities conference in Dakar, Senegal in June 1995.

One Response

  1. Your editorial is a wee bit biased. Although eco villages can have less of an impact on the environment than conventional developments, they are still developments and in this case , you have a farmer who no longer wants to work the land and thought this may be a good way to make some more money by subdividing his land and selling it for housing to people wealthy enough to buy into the sustainability lifestyle. However , the development is outside of the urban edge. the urban edge was created to comnbat urban sprawl and minimise our impact on natural ecosystems . What Mr Nicks has failed to make clear is that the Provinsical Spatial Development Framework, a guiding document for development in the Western Cape clealry states that developemnt should not occur outside of the urban edge . He should know as his company wrote the document!! Sometimes , one needs to take a step back form the services side of a development and look at the big picture. IN a country like South Africa, changing people attitudes within existing developments and uran areas would be far more effective than opening up new areas for development particularly ones that would only be aimed at the wealthy. Mr Nicks Flippant remark about not draining the wetands demonstrates an impoverished understanding of the natural ecosystems and the possible impacts that a development may have on the wetlands and groundwater. Mr Nicks has a background in commerce, town planning and urban design, but his environmental knowledge is questionable.

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