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A new airport for Cape Town in 2040?

As part of the public comment process for the Cape Town Spatial Development Framework (SDF), various organizations, individuals etc. were invited to comment on the documents relating to this framework. According to the City of Cape Town, an SDF “is a useful and effective tool with which to manage and monitor growth and development in the city, and informs investors about what they are ‘buying’ and where development opportunities exist in the short and longer term.” The guidelines and opportunities identified in these documents, while conceptual, open the floor for debate around how to develop Cape Town into the future without any binding regulations or changed in land use rights. Of particular interest were the views of ACSA and the City in terms of a potential new airport or airport site in the future, if Cape Town International were to reach its full capacity. It appears as if the mere thought of potentially accommodating a new airport in Cape Town from 2040 onwards has ruffled some feathers at ACSA.

ACSA (Airports Company South Africa): Where else can additional airport development go but into existing rural areas? The environmental impact of a new airport in the proposed location should be assessed and understood before allocations are made. Atlantis is not necessarily suitable for airport development and the selection of the site must follow the required procedures involving all stakeholders.

City (City of Cape Town): The indication of a new airport site is notional based on existing information and would have to be subject to much more detailed and focussed studies.

ACSA: Cape Town International Airport should not be relocated to a new site until the existing site is fully saturated. Relocation of the airport would imply losing control of development as such a relocation would be outside the urban edge. Refer to the development of Ekurhuleni after opening ‘Jan Smuts’. The CTIA Development Framework Volume I of Sept. 2001 approved by PGWC in Dec. 2001 makes provision for the maximization of the current airport site. Both the previous and current master plan assume the ultimate expansion of the existing site to at least 2 runways. The alignment of Symphony road istestament to this. The cost of duplication or replacement is high and unviable in the medium to long term. CTIA has demonstrated potential for at least a four fold expansion in capacity (up to 2040) and has not yet reached economy of scale to warrant replacement, closure or fragmentation. International experience shows that extending existing airports is more efficient due to economies of scale achieved.

City: An investigation into the identification of alternative / airport sites for Cape Town was initiated in 1996 as a part of the Airport System Analysis as a follow up to the 1985 resolution by the National Department of Transport. On the 13th February 1997, a delegation from the PAWC (Planning) met with officials from the CMC and it was agreed that the CMC should coordinate two studies which would give a context to the rapid growth and demand for aviation capacity in the Cape Town region. Based on its powers and duties and the mandate from PAWC, the CMC initiated the Airport Systems Plan and the Contextual Framework for CTIA and environs. The primary purpose of these investigations was to ensure that within the spatial planning framework and city infrastructure, adequate provision is made for a suitable site for airport use in a proactive manner, if such a site is required. On 29 October 1997, the CMC supported the recommendations and agreed that Phase 2 of the Airport systems plan should proceed to confirm, or otherwise, the potential of an alternative long term commercial airport site. The Airport Systems Study (1998) identified a number or potential alternative sites within the greater Cape Town area, this site is indicated on the CTSDF. The investigation into a new site should not be confused with the relocation of the CTIA. The latter investigation should be considered for the provision of aviation facilities in the development plans for the region, and the development of a system of airports for the Cape Town region.

ACSA: Limiting the airport’s growth to its demonstrated potential implies a need for replacement or duplicate airport, with associated disruption to the grid-based movement system objectives.

City: Current information suggests that a strong case can be made for securing an alternative airport site to meet the long term future aviation needs of the Cape Metropolitan Area. Whilst it is acknowledged that CTIA will remain the city’s main commercial and international airport until it reaches capacity, from a forward planning point of view, the proposed expansion and development options for CTIA should not be considered as the only option to accommodate long term aviation needs for the region. As the metropolitan planning authority, the Strategy and Planning directorate has a responsibility for managing land use(s) and ensuring land use compatibility. By its nature, aviation generates substantial impacts on surrounding land uses and has substantial land side support system capacity requirements (ie. transport infrastructure, utility services, stormwater drainage). It is therefore considered prudent to take a long term view when considering Cape Town’s long term aviation requirements. In this regard, it is important to identify land in the eventuality that long term capacity cannot be accommodated, for whatever reason, at CTIA, to prevent alternative sites from being sterilized by other forms of development, and to ensure the future compatibility of surrounding land uses.

ACSA: Agree that a system of integrated airports should be developed. General aviation (small aircraft operating in an ad hoc basis) and scheduled operations should be geographically and/or operationally separated once certain traffic levels are reached. This does not imply that the different air traffic types will not impact each other. The stated role of Atlantis airport v. Fisantekraal and CTIA is however ambiguous. Integrated airspace approach is supported and ATNS is the responsible organization to be contacted on this issue.

City: A meeting was held with Air Traffic Navigation Services (11/03/2010). The CTSDF supports an integrated airspace management approach. The statement referred to by the author was subsequently revised (refer Policy 17).

ACSA: By relocating, direct and indirect economic benefits of the airport are disrupted, which defeats the objective of intensifying development along the grid and threatens impoverishing the local community. The airport should be seen as a civic precinct that induces development. The micro-economic impact of the airport should be studied. Refer to Mott MacDonald and other studies that indicate for JNB, CPT, and DUR more than 300,000 jobs (? unclear comment). Worldwide studies have confirmed a GDP impact of 7-15%.

City: Current information suggests that a strong case can be made for securing an alternative airport site to meet the long term future aviation needs of the Cape Metropolitan Area. Whilst it is acknowledged that CTIA will remain the city’s main commercial and international airport until it reaches capacity, from a forward planning point of view, the proposed expansion and development options for CTIA should not be considered as the only option to accommodate long term aviation needs for the region. As the metropolitan planning authority, the Strategy and Planning directorate has a responsibility for managing land use(s) and ensuring land use compatibility. By its nature, aviation generates substantial impacts on surrounding land uses and has substantial land side support system capacity requirements (ie. transport infrastructure, utility services, stormwater drainage). It is therefore considered prudent to take a long term view when considering Cape Town’s long term aviation requirements. In this regard, it is important to identify land in the eventuality that long term capacity cannot be accommodated, for whatever reason, at CTIA, to prevent alternative sites from being sterilized by other forms of development, and to ensure the future compatibility of surrounding land uses.

ACSA: Relocating the airport does not support compact, integrated development because it moves jobs further away from the SE Metro. Synergies between airports and IDZs are clear and result in job creation; CTIA is strategically located to areas of unemployment. Areas around the existing airport should be targeted for job growth; the abandoned facilities in the existing site represent poor utilization of public investment.

City: Private Sector development around the Cape Town International Airport is encouraged as indicated on Map 6.2 & Map 6.6 and P17. It should be noted that the location of the existing airport renders many opportunities for residential development within the urban core unfeasable as a result of the noise cones drawn around the perimeter of the airport.