Demolition of Sea Point house opposed

By Shahied Joseph

There has been robust opposition to Heritage Western Cape’s decision to grant Sun Property Investment permission to demolish a Kloof Road building.

The building, at 6 Kloof Road, Sea Point, is believed to have been built around 1932.

This house on Kloof Road could be demolished.

The Simon Van Der Stel Foundation has objected to the demolition, arguing that the house had cultural significance, the details of which were outlined in a seven-page document drawn up by the foundation’s chairman, Ian Pretorius.

“Although the building has undergone considerable alterations internally, the original exterior character of the house is still evident,” he said.

“Although currently painted, the face brick plinth, street facades and clay tile roof still positively contribute to the similar materiality of the neighbouring two heritage resources that are situated on this prominent triangular site. The IIIC grading is therefore appropriate.”

However, the HWC maintains that their decision was made in line with the National Heritage Resources Act, No 25 of 1999 (NHRA).

“Taking into consideration the NHRA, guide to grading, a heritage resource is (in this instance) a structure that has been identified as having heritage significance and can be placed on a Heritage Register for future conservation,” said HWC CEO Michael Janse van Rensburg.

“The Built Environment and Landscape Committee (BELCom) did not find that the building had sufficient heritage significance to warrant retention.”

But Mr Pretorius believes the demolition will have a negative impact on a “prominent historical site containing numerous heritage resources”, that it is a unique and rare urban vista and that it has a social history that should be maintained.

The Sea Point Fresnaye Bantry Bay (SFB) ratepayers’ and residents’ association, which also opposes the demolition, believes that the internal alterations of heritage buildings should enable the adaptable and sustainable use thereof.

“This principle and practice are almost universally accepted as a pragmatic way to ensure the long-term protection and conservation of otherwise vulnerable structures, the experience being that the best way to ensure the protection of a heritage asset is to enable and ensure the ongoing use thereof,” said SFB chairman Michael Ender.

Heritage consultant Ashley Lillie recommended that the HWC allow the demolition of the building on Erf 353 as it did not warrant protection as a heritage area in terms of section 31 of the NHRA.

“When it comes to an objective assessment of cultural significance, is it aesthetically significant enough, is it architecturally significant enough is it historically significant enough? Each of these aspects have to be considered and weighed up and this building doesn’t cross the threshold,” Mr Lillie said.

“Although retaining its original form, the house has undergone many alterations that have removed and/or reduced the sense of its original characteristics; most notably internally,” he noted in his report.

“As such the building does not warrant formal protection, in its own right, as a representative example of the period. The general context of the portion of Sea Point in question is of a very mixed character and age (with many having no qualities of cultural significance), with the close environs of the subject property containing several buildings of considerably height and massing, including two currently under construction.”

The City of Cape Town had not received proposals for the redevelopment of the site and therefore did not support the demolition.

“The property has been graded as a Grade lllC resource and the significance of the context had been specifically noted. The City did not support the demolition as the total loss of the resource could negatively impact on the immediate historic context of the area if redeveloped inappropriately and insensitively,” the City said in a statement released to the media.

The permit was granted on November 2 and the appeals have to be received by Friday November 19.

Mr Janse Van Rensburg added: “The permit is valid for three years. The developers will action the demolition once they’ve received all the necessary approvals according to their schedule and not for HWC to determine.”