The battle for the protection of Cape Town's Bo-Kaap received a boost on Tuesday after the mayor announced a proposal to have the historic quarter declared a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ).
If the proposal is accepted at a council meeting planned for December 13, a public participation process will follow and if everybody agrees, it will be harder to excavate or make changes to the colourful quaint houses and vacant spaces on the slopes of Signal Hill.
"The Bo-Kaap is one of our most iconic areas with its rich history and unique architecture," Mayor Dan Plato said in a statement.
"Many Bo-Kaap families have been living there for generations and have contributed significantly to our cultural heritage. The City recognises that this heritage should be protected," he said.
Residents have been up in harms over developers coveting the remaining open spaces for apartment blocks.
Plato lamented the delay in getting this form of protection in place after it was first proposed by councillor Dave Bryant as far back as 2013, and said with new leadership at the City, the process should be sped up.
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Plato added a caveat to say that an HPOZ did not prevent development. However, it required the City to consider the impact on heritage significance if alternations, consolidations, demolitions or new developments were proposed on properties that fell within the HPOZ.
If approved, an HPOZ will ensure that development is sensitive to the area's architecture, community and history.
The proposed Bo-Kaap Heritage Protection Overlay extends from Carisbrook to Strand street, and from the foot of Lion's Head/Signal Hill to Buitengracht Street.
An HPOZ has no effect on ownership, nor the selling or buying of property, just on the proposed changes to properties.
This comes after numerous protests and court interdicts against protesting residents fuming over the mixed-use high rise on the corner of Chiappini Street, and other plans, such as FORTY ON L at 40 Lion Street.