De Waterkant construction opposed

Residents of De Waterkant and the De Waterkant Civic Association (DWCA) are opposing a housing development at 21 Loader Street as they believe it is flouting the rules of Heritage Western Cape as well as the Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ).

The construction at 21 Loader Street has caused consternation in De Waterkant.

According to Donald Cameron, a resident of De Waterkant, SALT architects presented a development plan to the DWCA for 21 Loader Street in 2015 but then deviated from the plan during construction.

The building started in May 2021 but in December a stop work notice was issued.

“There is a clear set of guidelines from Heritage Western Cape (HWC) and Land Use Management about what is allowed and what is appropriate in heritage-designated De Waterkant, including consultation with the local stakeholders. Too often, ambitious owners and their architects set out to exploit the planning system which they regard as a game – treating civic associations and neighbours with contempt and often hiring aggressive town planners to intimidate overworked and underpaid planning staff in City Hall. The new construction at 21 Loader Street is a clear example of civic exploitation,” said Mr Cameron.

The owner of 21 Loader Street, Dr Zak Schabort, says they followed procedure and protocol in 2015 and admitted that there are alterations.

“The only change on 21 Loader Street being that the façade was mirrored. The reason for this change is that the municipality required on the final approved plans (November 2019) that a firewall had to be built on the boundary due to the proximity of a window. Due to the scale of this wall it was decided, in consultation with the affected neighbours at 19 Loader Street, that it would be more practical to construct this wall at 23 Loader Street, of which I am a co-owner,” said Dr Schabort.

“Furthermore, due to existing height conditions discovered on site when construction started, the underside of the pool at the top level would have necessitated an increase in height. We decided to rather move the pool to the front where we had more volume to work with, thereby staying within the previously approved height restrictions.”

DWCA chairperson, Spider Clark, said they will not ignore the changes made at 21 Loader Street.

“De Waterkant is one the City’s wonderful treasurers when it comes to heritage, architectural integrity and visually appealing streetscapes. The proclamation of the Loader Street HPOZ is intended to preserve that heritage for all. We acknowledge that heritage areas change, they are dynamic and modernise according to evolving needs. But their remains a core focus on the key heritage aspects that are crucial to retain to ensure the important architectural context remains. When developments such as 21 Loader Street are allowed to go ahead unchecked, this compromises that integrity and appeal,” said Mr Clark.

“Unacceptable precedents that are allowed to creep in might appear to be small one-off concessions, but that quickly escalates to a ’new norm’, which threatens the very fabric of the HPOZ and we all then run the risk of losing valuable heritage resources of which we value.

“This risk can be mitigated if all interested and affecting parties, including the City, HWC and the community, are diligent in applying their minds and pursuing the appropriate compliance. 21 Loader Street should be no exception,” said Mr Clark.

Eddie Andrews, the City’s Deputy Mayor and mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, said they have noted the deviations that includes changes to the building facades, the pool changing place (Dixon Street to Loader Street), as well as the internal changes to each floor.

“A stop works notice was served towards the end of last year after a site inspection confirmed that the owner deviated from the approved building plan,” said Mr Andrews, adding that a penalty cannot be imposed yet.

“In the event of any deviations from the Municipal Planning By-Law, an application for an administrative penalty would have to be submitted. The Municipal Planning Tribunal is delegated to determine any penalty,” he said.

Dr Schabort said he is aware of the importance of the HPOZ and maintaining the status of Loader Street.

“We realise that this being a heritage sensitive area and a small community, consultations with all parties is beneficial and necessary, as a building forms part of the fabric of this village. Therefore, a constructive meeting at the start of the year was had between various parties, including CoCT heritage, DWCA, and some neighbours.”

The HWC is investigating the matter and will provide comment once the investigation is complete.

At the top of 21 Loader Street, the construction of the pool is not where it’s supposed to be.