Bid for urban park and track to enter history books


A move by the City of Cape Town to declare Green Point Urban Park and track a heritage site has been largely welcomed by residents in the area.

Last week the City of Cape Town announced their intention to submit a heritage application to Heritage Western Cape. The matter was also discussed at a recent Ward 54 committee meeting.

The City said they are currently working on the Heritage Western Cape nomination application. This is separate to an application by the Green Point Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (GPRRA) that was submitted in December last year.

The City’s Heritage Impact Assessment stated that the Green Point Common was of high heritage significance. To allay fears of excessive commercialisation, disposal and attrition of the most precious components of the original site, the City has nominated the Green Point Urban Park and historic Green Point track as a Grade II provincial heritage site.

The City’s Mayco member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, Johan van der Merwe, said: “We believe that the nomination of the Green Point Urban Park and track area as a provincial heritage site will ensure the protection of the site and therefore conserve its inherent qualities as a richly layered reflection of Cape Town’s history.

“The Green Point Urban Park is one of the city’s most inclusive open spaces as it reflects diversity and provides a beautiful recreational area for residents from all over Cape Town to come together and enjoy. It is for this very reason that the City aims to protect this area so that Capetonians can continue to embrace the beauty of the urban park and history of the area for generations to come.”

The City’s Mayco member for tourism, events and economic development, Garreth Bloor, added: “‘I am sure that the application for provincial heritage status will ensure that the urban park remains the pristine and popular outdoor event venue that it is. A total of 71 outdoor events have been hosted in the Green Point precinct between 2011 and 2015. While we need to optimise the efficient, effective and economical use of the Cape Town Stadium and its surrounds, we need to balance this with quality recreational spaces.”

The GPRRA, however, say they are not happy with just the Green Point Urban Park and the athletics track nominated by council – it needs to be all the fields and sports facilities, which were part of the original Common.

Jenny McQueen, chairperson of the GPRRA, said: “In our case we took a broader heritage approach and proposed that the whole of the remainder of Erf 1056 – the original Green Point Common – should be considered for protection. Fort Wynyard, the Laboratory, the Old Somerset Hospital and Green Point Lighthouse are already provincial heritage sites.

“We see the Common as an all-inclusive cultural landscape. In our view, the historical events, social values, old structures and features are embraced within a unique setting.

“Heritage is not merely a matter of flower beds and signage; it is also a sense of place. Conservation of heritage landscapes means keeping the bigger picture in mind.”

A GPRRA statement last week said, they look forward to working with the City, Heritage Western Cape and interested and affected parties towards defining the boundaries of heritage significance of Green Point Common, and the declaration of the Common as a provincial heritage site.

Lorna Levy, of Seafront for All, said she thought it would be a good thing if the park was declared a heritage site. “I would like that because it would mean it would be there for our future generations to enjoy.”

She added that with increasing densification within the city, open public spaces are becoming more important.

Ward councillor Jacques Weber, said he would support the motion in principle.

“It is a very important place within the ward and part of the legacy when the Cape Town Stadium was built for the 2010 Fifa World Cup. It is important to maintain public open space but there are some parts of the Common that could be upgraded,” he said.

Heritage Western Cape said they had yet to receive a formal application to make Green Point Urban Park a heritage site.