City is ‘delaying’ heritage zone

2017-09-19 06:00

A legal dispute between the Bo-Kaap Civic Association, the City of Cape Town and the developer of a proposed high-rise building appears to be behind the delay in approval of five heritage protection overlay zones.

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, says there is a High Court application to review and set aside a planning decision – based on the development proposal falling partially within the current heritage protection overlay zone (HPOZ) – that has been launched by the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association.

“Given this dispute and the uncertainty as to the outcome of the litigation, we were not able to engage on the current heritage protection overlay zones ,” he says.

“The HPOZ continues to apply; however, the dispute will provide legal certainty as to how it should be applied.”

The Bo-Kaap HPOZ came under consideration when then ward councillor Dave Bryant submitted a motion in 2013 to have the suburb named an urban conservation area (“Protecting heritage”, People’s Post, 21 October 2014).

The HPOZ would place limitations on development in the suburb, one of the oldest communities in Cape Town, to protect the heritage and traditional homes in the suburb.

According to a report submitted to the Good Hope Subcouncil at the time, the area has been declared a Grade 1 heritage resource by the South African Heritage Resource Agency (Sahra), with the intention of naming it a national heritage site.

However, this has not been done due to “capacity constraints with Sahra”, the report read. As it was seen as “unlikely that [it will be named a national heritage asset] in the foreseeable future”, the report recommended instituting an overlay zone.

Research is being undertaken to determine the correct approach to the specific heritage issues in the five areas that were identified, says Herron. These are Bo-Kaap, Langa, Vredehoek, Philadelphia and Newlands Village.

“This is further being aligned with the draft revised municipal spatial development framework which is currently out for public participation,” he says.

“However, the litigation that has been initiated by the Bo-Kaap residents’ association, over a planning approval for a development that falls partly within the HPOZ, will delay the finalisation of any HPOZ since we need certainty as to what we are approving.”

Osman Shaboodien, chairperson of the association, confirms the legal action around a proposed development on Rose Street. The court case centres on the belief that the City “has not applied its mind to the heritage value of the area”, he says.

“The court case is not about the City alone, but also the developer. If the City had implemented the HPOZ, we wouldn’t be in court in the first place.” 

He adds that other applicants, including heritage bodies, are joining the legal dispute. He says the allegation that the litigation is holding up the approval of the HPOZs is ­“hogwash”.

“The HPOZ has nothing to do with the court case. It is a process that started three years ago. The City is using this as an excuse to prolong prolific development,” he says.

Shaboodien also says the link between the court case and the other HPOZs is unclear.

“No HPOZ is generic. The Bo-Kaap tells a different story to Vredehoek, which has more art deco buildings and is closer to the mountain. The City is just not moving. This is a three year process that is now rolling into a fourth year.”

The HPOZs are criteria that are applied via the development process, Herron says. The general and specific provisions of the HPOZ are contained in the City’s development management scheme.

“The City’s draft revised municipal spatial development framework states that the City is committed to identify, conserve and manage heritage resources, including cultural landscapes,” Herron says.

“The Transport and Urban Development Authority is in the process of assessing the mechanism for the implementation of the HPOZ.”

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