Green Point Common declared a heritage site

Ndifuna Ukwazis description of what affordable housing could look like on the disused tennis courts (in red) and the current exclusive housing developments surrounding the Common (in blue).

Green Point Common was declared a heritage site last Wednesday, March 14.

The Green Point Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (GPRRA), with support from the City of Cape Town, had applied to Heritage Western Cape (HWC) to have the common granted heritage status (“No common ground”, Atlantic Sun, May 19, 2017).

Activist organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi were concerned about the impact this would have on the possibility of building social housing in the area in future.

However,NickBudlender, a researcher at Ndifuna Ukwazi, said the group had met with the GPRRA last Wednesday and accepted the declaration of heritage status for the common.

“We were concerned with the large boundaries that were initially put forward by the GPRRA and how these would prevent any future development of affordable housing on what is the largest parcel of public land along the Atlantic seaboard. While attending yesterday’s meeting, the acting chairperson for Heritage Western Cape, Katherine Dumbrell claimed that there were no objections because we were not objecting to the Heritage Status per say, but rather to the effect that it may have on the future development of affordable housing on the site. She argued that our concerns could be addressed during the CMP (Conservation Management Plan) process, and this is something we have accepted.”

A CMP meeting is where authorities make decisions about conserving and managing heritage places.Jenny Mqueen, chairperson of GPRRA said the process of having the common granted heritage status has been ongoing for the past three years as it was debated by Heritage Western Cape on several occasions.

“The land was granted to the people of Cape Town for sport and recreation – it is so in the title deeds which cannot be changed.The common is one unique place as all people can enjoy the common with almost every sport facility available, the Green Point Park is visited by thousands of people nearly every weekend from far afield.”

She said that the GPRRA are “delighted” about the decision.

“Our thanks go to Dr Antonia Malan for her extensive research and the work on the nomination. The GPRRA are not against affordable housing; the common has too much to offer the people of Cape Town for sports and recreation and the park is a great attraction for all, to make way for affordable housing – when there are areas in close proximity, already earmarked, Helen Bowden for one.”

Heritage Western Cape CEO, Mxolisi Dlamuka said: “Heritage sites gets chosen based on their heritage significance. The Green Point Common is significant in terms of its pattern of history, social value, sporting history and its connection to the emancipation of slavery. It is also one of the largest public open spaces in the greater Cape Town.”