Residents and business owners located at the Bo-Kaap were given an opportunity to have their say during a public hearing on the proposed heritage protection of the area on Saturday 9 February.Bo-Kaap’s proposed Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ) has been a topic among interested parties for some time.HPOZ is an area of the city which is designated as containing structures, landscaping, natural features or sites having historic, architectural, cultural or aesthetic significance.Cape Town mayor Dan Plato extended his gratitude to participants for their input in the matter. “Clearly heritage is an important matter for you and what I see here (today) is healthy and active citizenship, participating in a democratic process with government,” Plato said.He said heritage had different interpretations and meant different things to different people. “For some it is about a family heritage, of great grandfathers and great grandmothers and particular traditions that have been carried down through generations. For others it is about paying homage to their ancestry, acknowledging their roots even though they may never have set foot in the country that they claim as their heritage, and that is their right and their joy to celebrate.“Then there is natural heritage, and one can say for example that the beautiful protea flower is part of the Cape’s heritage. Unesco inscribed the Cape Floral Region as a Protected Area on the World Heritage List in 2004,” explained Plato.Plato said the City had already received written submissions since he and other Mayco members recommended to approve a public participation process for the proposal in December last year.He said an HPOZ forms part of the Development Management Scheme (DMS) of the Municipal Planning bylaw.“An HPOZ is implemented by local government, and is separate from a National Heritage process. The arts and culture minister will have to address any requests for a national heritage site, as I believe he visited the Bo-Kaap last month and made some commitments to the community.”Plato said the people of Bo-Kaap deserved a speedy resolution to the matter and when they announced the process, his administration was committed to ensuring there were no further delays in finalising the proposal to protect the Bo-Kaap’s heritage and culture.“Bo-Kaap is one of our most iconic areas with its rich history and unique architecture. 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.”Annette Evans, regional manager for the Institute of Estate Agents of South Africa in the Western Cape, said the concept that the character and heritage of the Bo-Kaap remain is a brilliant one.“Heritage is a huge tourism and a community driver and that is a benefit. Our concern, however, is that we can remain trading and that kills development of the estate agents in the area remains,” Evans said.She said the institute aims to create a link between the community and estate agents within the heritage guidelines.“Part of the heritage is that the colours of the houses, which people may not know, indicates a business trade. For example, a seamstress would have one colour house and a carpenter would have a different colour. That is how people identified with the area and that is what makes it critical that people recognise Bo-Kaap for that,” says Evans.Another trader in the community, Tommy Brummer of the South African Association of Consulting Professional Planners, said that while they support the proclamation of the HPOZ for the Bo-Kaap, it has to be done with a set of specific regulations to guide development within the area.“The Development Management Scheme provides for the HPOZ and part of it makes provision for specific regulations to be imposed at the same time as the declaration of the HPOZ. At this point in time, not a single HPOZ in the City has any specific regulations applicable to them, so it implies that there is no proper regulations to give predictability to the development community about what they should do when they develop in an HPOZ.”Members of the public have until Friday 22 February to submit their opinions about the matter.Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.capetown.gov.za/haveyoursay.