Heritage crumbles

2016-06-07 06:00

Ten heritage buildings will be retained at the Somerset precinct, with another two dozen set for demolition.

This after a record of decision by Heritage Western Cape declared that the drinking fountain memorial, the New Somerset Hospital, the Victoria Nurses’ Home, the old workshops, the metal railings to Beach Road, the Old City Hospital, the fountain to the Old City Hospital, the medical museum, the medical museum mortuary, the nurses’ homes, laboratory, community clinic and Portswood Road boundary wall, all be retained.

Around 35 buildings had been earmarked last year for demolition in the development of the Somerset precinct as part of the provincial government’s plan to redevelop the precinct (“Wrecking ball to Somerset”, People’s Post, 16 June)

The Helen Bowden Nurses’ Home site is the first of four parcels of land in the Somerset precinct to be released for development. The empty home on this site, situated next to Fort Wynyard and the Green Point common, is currently zoned as public open space. It will be demolished to make way for a 14-storey development which will include retail, office and residential space.

Only five of the buildings which have been proposed for demolition have a heritage grading of 3B or 3C, Siphesihle Dube, spokesperson for provincial minister of public works, Donald Grant, previously told People’s Post.

However, various other noteworthy buildings will be incorporated into the development, says Dube, including the Old Somerset Hospital (north block), the Victoria Nurses’ Home, the Old City Hospital, the Old Mortuary, the Cape Medical Museum, the hospital workshops, some of the old City Hospital wards and the dispensary.

It is planned that these buildings, or elements thereof, will be renovated to heritage specification or incorporated into the new development.

Increased heritage grading was suggested for a number of the properties on the site in a heritage impact assessment report released last year and demolition was supported for various structures considered to have little heritage value.

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