Bo-Kaap saga: City of Cape Town asks for public comment on heritage protection proposals

Bo-Kaap (File)
Bo-Kaap (File)

The City of Cape Town is calling for comment on how to protect the Bo-Kaap's heritage and character as developers clamour for prime land in the suburb on the slopes of Signal Hill.

This is part of plans to include the neighbourhood known for historic colourful houses, and its close-knit community, in a planned "heritage protection overlay zone (HPOZ)".

This follows years of concerns and protests over coveted land within walking distance of the Cape Town CBD being sold to developers for the construction of high-rise buildings.

Described as the City's "oldest surviving residential neighbourhood", the Bo-Kaap is also regarded as home to one of South Africa's oldest Muslim communities and is a favourite stop for tourists and photographers.

"I'm calling on Capetonians to get involved in this public participation process and to tell us what they think," said Mayor Dan Plato.

"This is a pivotal time for the City and for the residents of the Bo-Kaap. The outcome of this process will have, for example, an impact on our vision to promote the Bo-Kaap as a heritage tourist destination, to assist the community with related economic development opportunities and to protect its long-term sustainability as a cultural asset."

In December, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa announced at an event organised by the Bo-Kaap Civics and Ratepayers' Association that plans were in place to declare the historic suburb a national heritage site.

Thereafter, he would ask Unesco to also declare it a world heritage site.

One month to comment

The public participation process starts on Friday, January 18, and the cut-off date is February 22, 2019.

The City will also host a public hearing at the Civic Centre on Saturday, February 9, for oral representations from community groups and representatives.

Plato urged residents and property owners of Bo-Kaap in particular to study the guideline document to be released on Friday, so that they can understand how the proposed zoning might impact them.

He explained that all land units within the City have a base zoning that determines what the land can be used for and how it may be developed.

An HPOZ sets extra development rules over and above this, so that development applications for properties within the area are assessed more critically.

READ: Crane delays: Bo-Kaap residents cheer as developer's crane barred from area temporarily

The proposed HPOZ for Bo-Kaap extends to the Table Mountain National Park, and includes the northern green verges to the north-west of Strand Street, and includes Buitengracht Street between the intersections with Carisbrook and Strand Street.

The guideline document will be available on the City's website at from Friday.

The document will also be available to read at the City's offices at 44 Wale Street and at the Table Bay district planning office on the corner of Adderley Street and Hertzog Boulevard.

Objections and comments may be submitted before or on February 22, 2019, to or online at or to the two offices listed above.

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