The principles feeding into Stellenbosch Municipality’s Spatial Development Framework

29 April 2019

The previous newsletter referred to Stellenbosch Municipality’s draft Spatial Development Framework, which is open for public comment until May. The preamble to this framework explains that growth and development of settlements is inevitable and that certain principles or core beliefs should be at the basis of all development processes of new settlements to ensure responsible development.

The first of these principles refer to natural assets that should be maintained as such, e.g. biodiversity areas, land that affects the maintenance of water and agricultural land. Secondly, the (un)built areas that embody Stellenbosch’s cultural heritage should be respected – which can also manifest as opportunities to enable new expressions of culture. These first two principles flow into the third principle according to which growth and development should be directed to areas of lesser natural and cultural significance and specifically to areas with potential for public mobility. Fourthly, the roles and potential of Stellenbosch’s different settlements should be clarified. The role of a settlement is determined by its relationship to natural and cultural assets and the capacity of existing infrastructure to accommodate change and growth. Fifthly, a balanced approach to transport, that serves both regional and local mobility needs, should be ensured. According to the sixth principle communities should be balanced and sustainable. Finally, the available and collective energy should focus on a few catalytic areas and critical projects.

Comments by experts confirm that the proposed Stellenbosch Spatial Development Framework is conceptually innovative, and arguably the most advanced in some of its thinking country-wide. Among others, the SDF grapples in aligning corporate and public sector development intent and resources, a very important consideration given the resource constraints of government.

It is furthermore unique in the extent that it establishes a similarly strong link between national and provincial policy objectives to contain settlement footprints (and associated advantages) and the realistic, achievable accommodation of growth needs within urban edges (as illustrated by the Adam Tas Corridor’s potential). The SDF addresses complex issues under challenging circumstances. No other SDF addresses current national debates related to land head-on in the way the Stellenbosch SDF is doing.

In discussions with citizens across sectors of society, there seems to be huge support for the work, perhaps to an extent not experienced in Stellenbosch before.

We – as your support team – have indicated that the work can be improved, that it can be developed further, especially in relation to achieving meaningful housing and transport plans in parallel to the SDF. This, however, does not imply that the SDF is not compliant, and that it should not be approved by Council.

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