Zandvlei estuarine management plan

The City of Cape Town encourages residents and interested and affected parties to comment on the draft management plan for the Zandvlei Estuary in Muizenberg. The commenting period closes on 30 November 2023. Read more below:

The Zandvlei Estuary – the point where Zandvlei meets the False Bay ocean in Muizenberg – has a catchment area of 92km². The estuary is highly modified, a temporarily open-closed system, and impacted by the surrounding urban suburbs of Constantia, Plumstead, Tokai, Retreat and Muizenberg that drain into the catchment.

The City’s Environmental Management Department is responsible for the management of the estuary and must develop an Estuarine Management Plan (EMP) that assesses its current state and determines management and monitoring actions.

The EMP is a strategic planning document that must be updated every five years, and the public now has the opportunity to comment on the latest review.


  • Is a 2,5km long, shallow estuarine system, and is 0,5km wide at its widest point
  • Receives flows from the Keysers, Sand and Westlake rivers
  • Has a long history of alteration and management since the establishment of the Simon’s Town railway line across the estuary in the 19th century, and further alterations in the early 1970s
  • Is a popular recreational waterbody with water-based activities including canoeing, yachting, paddle-boarding, angling etc.
  • Is a critical nursery area for marine fish species, and provides a habitat for waterbirds such as waterfowl and waders
  • Receives significant quantities of polluted and poor quality runoff from the urban catchment

‘The Zandvlei estuary is the last truly functional estuary on the False Bay coast, and it is vital from an ecological, social and economic perspective that we conserve this asset. It is possible with good management, targeted remediation and rehabilitation to reduce the nutrient build-up in the vlei. By improving the mouth management, we can enhance the estuary’s connection with the ocean, and rehabilitate the terrestrial and wetland areas that border the vlei,’ said the City’s Deputy Mayor and Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Eddie Andrews.

The revised estuary management plan provides short-, medium-, and long-term management priorities and actions to maintain and enhance the estuarine function; protect the critical biodiversity and existing urban infrastructure bordering the vlei; and enable recreational and educational uses for current and future generations.

‘The quality of inflow from the catchment area, and sewage spills related to infrastructure failure and load-shedding, pose the biggest threats to the estuary’s water quality and overall health. The City is committed to addressing these challenges. We also note the priority action items listed in the revised plan, among which the proposal to dredge the marine sediments from the lower channel, the development of sewer pump station protocols to manage surcharge and failure events, the installation of back-up power for sewage pump stations in the catchment area, enforcement of residential, agricultural and commercial compliance in the wider catchment in accordance with the City’s stormwater by-laws, and to monitor runoff from sources such as agricultural areas and golf courses.

‘I encourage residents, the immediate community, recreational users, businesses and interested and affected parties to read the draft revised plan, and to submit comments. We are eager to receive your input on this very important plan that has been revised to help us improve the Zandvlei Estuary, its health and water quality over time,’ said Alderman Andrews.

The draft plan is available on the City’s website at:

The commenting period closes on 30 November 2023.

The high resolution map and photo are available here:

Design manual explained: Part III


Having established why buildings in Marina da Gama have to comply with the requirements of the Design Manual and also explained the origins of the style of architecture on which the Design Manual is based, the next step is to explain the way the elements of a building are put together to comply with the Manual.

With the origins lying with the Cape Vernacular style of architecture it is important to adhere to certain basic principals of Building Form, both in plan and elevation.

The true vernacular style, in plan, tends to resemble certain letters of the alphabet, “U”,”T”, “L” & “H”

Bearing in mind that the Marina style is an adaptation of the vernacular, the plan shapes have been changed to suit the next design feature, which was the incorporation of mono-pitch roofs which typically extend over only one room width and are broken at the apex by a parapet wall. This, important feature was introduced to minimise the impact of the wind on the Marina.

These are the adaptations of the Alphabet shapes:

And the illustration below shows how the “one room” roof cover should be applied. It should be noted that this can be expanded to be one roof plus a passage.

Pitched roofs are to be detailed and constructed at between 10 and 25 degrees pitch and are to be black. Permitted materials are natural slate, fibre cement slate or cement roof tiles. Permitted colours are black, blue black or dark grey. The reason for these colour choices being that they fit most naturally into the palette of the original vernacular material which was thatch.

In addition to pitched roofs, lean-to flat roofs form part of the vernacular style and are permitted.

These can be at any pitch below 5 degrees and constructed out of concrete waterproofed board or profiled metal sheeting. In the case of concrete or waterproofed board a layer of stone chip should cover the waterproofing which is good practice because it protects the membrane but also reduces the likelihood of glare. In the case of metal roofs, they must be set between parapet walls or if not possible all side timbers should be screened with fascia boards.   The following illustrate the roof Forms which do not follow the vernacular and are not permitted

Marina da Gama Association Executive Committee

Design manual explained: Part II

In the last newsletter it was explained why Marina Da Gama has a Design Manual and this article will explain the roots of the architectural style that is dictated by the Design Manual. In South Africa where there is a rich and established vernacular style of architecture which stems back to the early settlers to this country. It is appropriate that it is this style which is dictated by the Design Manual rather than some fanciful European style of Architecture which has been adopted on some private estates.

The reason for this choice of architecture being that is pleasing to the eye, can be implemented in a variety of building shapes and the resultant suburb or precinct is lifted above the typical suburban sprawl so often seen in suburbia. It is also a relatively simple style of architecture both in massing of components and the absence of elaborate ornamental detailing. Buildings such as Rhodes Cottage in Muizenberg embody and illustrate this vernacular style. The principal elements are pitched roofs and horizontally proportioned white walls which have windows and doors “punched” into them rather than be coming dominant elements on the façade. The original roofs were pitched at 45 degrees because this is optimum in thatch construction which was the material of choice in the original examples. Thatch was not considered a suitable material for houses in the Marina and, as consequence slightly lower roof pitches are acceptable.

The strong south easterly winds were also considered when making this choice of style as it was easily adapted, by way of large and steep mono-pitch roofs, to be able to deflect the wind upwards. One only needs to stand on Park Island when the wind is blowing and compare the effect the wind is having on Zandvlei with the far calmer state of the water within the Marina. This is achieved by the combination of steep mono-pitch roofs and the intense planting of trees by the developers during the founding of Marina da Gama. For this reason, the Design Manual also covers the planting of verges and the protection of trees, whether on or off an individual property is entrenched in City of Cape Town regulations. Clearly the range of materials available to homeowners and the range of paint colours has increased over the years and the Design Manual has taken these into account. It is also for this reason that the Manual must be a dynamic document that requires to be updated from time to time. Future articles will deal with each element of a house and explain what materials may be used, what colour they may be as well as providing explanation for the rationale behind each of these.

The design Manual can be found via this link:

Marina da Gama Association Executive Committee

Gordon Hart explains the MDGA Design Manual

To all our members …

Gordon Hart, resident architect and Archcom member will be writing a series of articles detailing the purpose and application of the Marina da Gama Design Manual. He will explain what powers the Design Manual affords Archcom and Excom and why the Marina even has a design manual. This will answer many questions around standards and implementation of the Design Manual, including the colour of exterior walls.

The design Manual can be found via this link:

Why does Marina da Gama have a design manual?

Marina da Gama was conceived and developed by Anglo American Properties and the Marina as it exists today is only a minor part of what was originally envisaged.

In this conception was an understanding of the magnitude of building activity that would ensue, the sensitivity of the environment due to its proximity to nature areas as well as the impact that wind could have on the new suburb which were one side of the reason for controls being put in place and the desire to create an area where cohesive architecture added to the ambiance and value of property on the other.

For all these reasons they chose that, as part of the motivation to Council to rezone and sub-divide the land, all buildings within the Marina would be built in a particular architectural style that was appropriate to the environment and could be used to address the impact of wind.

To this end a very well thought through Design Manual accompanied the application to Council. This was approved and it became a condition of approval of the sub-division that an Association of Homeowners be formed and that they be entrusted with ensuring that the buildings built in the Marina complied with this Design Manual.

This right is still entrenched today insofar as compulsory membership of the MDGA is written to every title deed and the MDGA administrative committees, namely EXCOM and ARCHCOM have the responsibility of ensuring that the Design Manual is complied with.

Marina da Gama is also recognised as a special overlay area withing the Development Management Scheme of the City of Cape Town where compliance with the Design Manual is required and where special permission has to be sought to build or alter a building in the Marina.

The compliance of an application can only be evaluated in terms of the conditions set down in the Design Manual.

The major features that are entrenched in the Design Manual are the white walls, the black roofs, the opportunity for adding colour to elements such as windows and doors, design of boundary walls and other elements.

The Design Manual also contains regulations regarding elements such as verges, parking, aerials, solar panels & “Wendy Houses”.

All of these are there as “good housekeeping” and the intent of the Design Manual is to maintain the Marina as a homogenous, tidy and orderly suburb.

In a series of forthcoming articles, I will go through the document, outlining the various requirements of the Design Manual, the reason for their existence and how they should be implemented.

Marina da Gama Association Executive Committee

A New Year message from the MDGA Executive Committe

To all our members …

Everyone on the Marina da Gama Association Executive Committee (MDGA ExCom) trusts that the festive season brought joy and happiness to you and your families in our beautiful neighbourhood, still the Cape’s best-kept secret. Listening to the influx of youngsters into the Marina and seeing so many people of all ages responsibly enjoying our waterways on various floating craft has been truly uplifting.

Other highlights were our year-end festivities, including the children’s Christmas party with Santa Claus and a magician along with face-painting and games. The Christmas carols were equally memorable. Thanks to your kindness, we were able to spread the joy beyond our community by donating extra gifts to Where Rainbows Meet in Vrygrond. The generosity you showed towards Cape Town’s less privileged communities was humbling.

Unfortunately, we start the New Year confronting the familiar problem of load shedding, which plays havoc at home and across our waterways by causing regular sewerage spills.

The City of Cape Town has been remarkably responsive, attending to spillages and repairing burst pipes – even on Christmas Day. Well done to the teams involved and thank you from all of us at the MDGA!

Now to matters related to the Community Schemes Ombud Services (CSOS).

As we have already reported, two MDGA members asked CSOS to adjudicate against the MDGA ExCom on various matters. Most importantly, both applicants asked for the ExCom to be declared non-quorate and that a General Meeting be called.

In the first complaint, CSOS3611/WC/22 (or C1), CSOS rejected two of the complainant’s adjudication requests but confirmed that a General Meeting should be called. In the second complaint, CSOS004107/WC/22 (C2), the complainant requested six adjudications, and the adjudicator rejected and dismissed all six requests. One request was rejected because it was outside CSOS’s mandate or terms of reference. Two requests were rejected because MDGA ExCom could not supply information requested by complainant since the information does not exist. A further three requests were dismissed. The final adjudication order read: “The relief sought by the Applicant is misconceived and accordingly dismissed in terms of section 53(1) of the CSOS Act.”

The point of this detail is that we now have two CSOS adjudications that contradict each other.

In response to C1, CSOS adjudicated that MDGA ExCom must hold a General Meeting to address the issue of ExCom being non-quorate; the unconstitutionality of the non-quorate ExCom meeting held on 6 July 2022; and the co-option of ExCom members. Meanwhile, in response to C2, CSOS stated, and here we paraphrase, that:

1.)    The request for an order invalidation of the appointment of Richard Midgley, Patrick McKenna, Demetri Qually and Dominique Erasmus at the meeting where they were appointed did not quorate is dismissed by adjudicator.

2.)    It was found that ExCom was appointed in a properly constituted AGM and the relief sought by the applicant is misconceived and accordingly dismissed; and, finally

3.)    The relief sought by applicant in prayers (calling for a General Meeting to appoint ExCom) is dismissed.

To repeat: the adjudication in C2 is directly contradictory to the adjudication in C1. Importantly, in your ExCom’s view, and in the view of our counsel and attorney, CSOS interpreted our actions correctly in its response to C2.

What to do?

As a responsible MDGA ExCom, we have consulted widely and professionally and have always been mindful of any cost implications for the MDGA and its members. Several MDGA members, including ex-ExCom chairs and ex ExCom members from before, 2017 have also been at pains to highlight the same cost implications. This, despite the fact that these same people sat on or advised the ExCom when, according to the MDGA’s audited financial statements, it spent over R147,000 on legal fees over three years objecting to a rezoning application in the Marina. Furthermore, before 2017 ExCom spent this money without ever getting authorisation from members or advising members of the expenditure or potential amounts involved. It is true, however, that the previous ExCom did involve members in a petition. At the 2017 AGM, the issue was raised by the complainant who lodged C1. ExCom’s response then was: ExCom, your elected body, agreed to fund the legal expenses as per its mandate

The current ExCom has taken to heart the advice it has been given. Accordingly, we corresponded with CSOS about a zero-cost extension, which is within CSOS’s powers to grant, on 14 November 2022; again, telephonically on 8 December 2022; and in a subsequent email confirming this telephonic conversation on the 9th of December 2022. Unfortunately, our efforts have been to no avail.

As a result, we have no option but to seek a review of the C1 adjudication as per the Adjudication Order in C2. Your duly elected ExCom is also in the process of engaging legal counsel to ensure we get an order setting aside the C1 adjudication order and suspending its effect pending a review. Our best estimate of this action’s costs to the MDGA is in the order of R30,000.

Hopefully, we will be able to resolve this issue in the early part of 2023. We also trust that the current MDGA ExCom has earned the overwhelming support that members have shown towards us in the numerous emails we have received. Thank you to everyone who has backed our position.

Looking ahead, we trust that this will be the year when the loadshedding eases off, the sewerage spills are eliminated, the new Kingfisher is delivered and all your wishes and hopes for a fabulous 2023 come true!

With very best wishes,

Marina da Gama Association Executive Committee