Dangerous dereliction

2017-07-03 13:16
Local concerned citizen Paul Cuenod inspects the intricate detail on one of the two remaining posts of a crumbling building on West Street that is formally listed as a heritage site. INSET: The crumbling building on the corner of West and Boom streets was built around the 1900s.

Local concerned citizen Paul Cuenod inspects the intricate detail on one of the two remaining posts of a crumbling building on West Street that is formally listed as a heritage site. INSET: The crumbling building on the corner of West and Boom streets was built around the 1900s. (Ian Carbutt)

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A rare and historical Pietermaritzburg building dating back to the 1900s has been left to fall apart despite its protected heritage site status.

The building on the corner of West and Boom streets in the CBD, was used as a house until 1984 and dates back to the Victorian/Edwardian period.

Crawling with rats and on the verge of collapse, the building is now used by vagrants as a shelter.

Two of the rare and detailed verandah posts on the building have been removed, apparently after a car crash two weeks ago.

Amafa Heritage KwaZulu-Natal built environment head Ros Devereux said the building was “probably built before 1900 but certainly before 1910”.

She said the building is formally listed as a heritage site as per the Town Planning Scheme of 1997 (Grade III — Local Importance) and was rated “for its architectural significance, its rare and outstanding example of its type, its age and its contribution to the heritage built environment of the City.

She said it was a landmark on West Street and was part of a group of heritage buildings.

A concerned local, Paul Cuenod, who works near the building, said he passes it every day on his way to work and was shocked at the state of it.

“People are living inside. It is my guess that it is over 100 years old.”

He said with the two posts now missing from the front of the building, and its already crumbling structure, it was “a disaster waiting to happen”.

Jabulani Ndlovu, who lives near the building,said a car had taken out two of the posts propping up the building when it crashed into a tree next to the building.

He said the posts had been knocked down and removed but he did not know who removed the posts or where they had been taken.

A source with knowledge of historical buildings said the municipality must ensure that all buildings are maintained to standards set out in the by-laws.

“The balcony is now very fragile and it is built over the pavement, which is municipal property.

“The municipality could be liable if the balcony collapses while someone walking on the pavement below it. However, the owner is ultimately responsible for the maintenance of the building and could be held responsible for any claims against the municipality.”

The municipality had not responded at time of going to print.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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