Organisation aims to protect history of CT

2015-05-05 06:00

Concerned over the loss of historical properties across the city, a group of residents have now banded together to promote the protection of Cape Town’s heritage.

The Heritage Activation Coalition held their first meeting on Thursday 26 March, during which the aims of the organisation were discussed.

Founder Mark Magielse says there is a need “to protect what we’ve got more than what we have been doing”.

“Older buildings are being demolished at a rate that is scary,” he says.

The organisation aims to serve as a platform to identify protection-worthy sites and educate the public on their importance, Magielse says.

This has become increasingly important as Heritage Western Cape (HWC) fills a judiciary body, he explains, instead of focusing on the protection of heritage properties.

“We are not here to fight against HWC. We want to engage with them, developers and council,” he says.

The formation of the coalition comes after a report revealed that over 300 Western Cape heritage buildings have been demolished in 16 months (“Sites under microscope”, People’s Post 20 January).

The Green Point Ratepayers’ Association released this information based on numbers obtained from Heritage Western Cape.

However, Heritage Western Cape CEO Andrew Hall says the statement by the association was misleading and that many of the demolished buildings were not formally protected or had no heritage significance.

During the same period, Heritage Western Cape processed over 3 300 applications, Hall says.

This makes the number of demolitions less than 10% of all applications received.

The Green Point Ratepayers’ Association is currently challenging an appeal by the owners of 8 Romney Road, a 108-year-old home, against a ruling that it may not be demolished to make way for a multi-storey development.

“Similar decisions and demolition permits have been granted by Heritage Western Cape in Fresnaye, De Waterkant, Vredehoek, and many other suburbs,” Magielse says.

Fellow founding member Ann Nurock says development and heritage protection need to go hand-in-hand.

“Development at any cost is unacceptable. Development is good, but it can also destroy heritage. There needs to be a balance,” she says

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