Gym lodges appeal against heritage plan

A potential heritage status for Green Point common is under discussion.

Virgin Active has appealed part of the Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the Green Point Common.

“I was very surprised at the appeal. Virgin Active appears to be insisting that it must have specific development agreements written into the CMP. But lease agreements are a completely different process,” said historical archaeologist and heritage practitioner Antonia Malan.

Ashley Lillie, a heritage consultant for Virgin Active has been involved with the matter since 2017. He said the appeal is against certain clauses regarding construction or demolition of “non-conservation worthy” structures.

“The appeal is against the approval of the Conservation Management Plan in the absence of adequate provisions that (a) exclude any requirement for an application for a permit in respect of demolition of the affected structures in that they have been identified as being not conservation worthy; and (b) accept that any replacement structure shall, as of right, be entitled to occupy the full extent of the footprint and envelope of the existing structure,” said Mr Lillie.

Mr Lillie says that Virgin Active sent a submission to Heritage Western Cape (HWC) in September 2017 that included a proposal to adopt a mutually acceptable CMP but neither HWC nor the City, who created the plan, gave the Virgin Active the opportunity to engage with the document.

“It is therefore incorrect to state that appellant was privy to the proceedings that involved the discussion ‘at length’ relating to the CMP,” he said.

The plan for the Green Point Common, which was nominated for a Provincial Heritage Site (PHS) in 2016 by the Green Point Residents and Ratepayers Association (GPRRA), has been approved by HWC and the City of Cape Town.

Eddie Andrews, the City’s deputy mayor and mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, says the designation as a PHS was received, but promulgation was delayed.

“The City compiled a management plan that met the requirement of the applicable legislation and that the Provincial heritage authority adopted this plan leading to the publishing of the intention to promulgate the common as a Provincial Heritage Site. During the appeal, opportunity allowed for in this process, one appeal was received,” Mr Andrews said.

According Ms Malan, who is also a member of the GPRRA, the nomination was made in 2016 in reaction to public concerns about the loss of Public Open Space as well as changes in the historical characteristics and traditional use of the common.

HWC Chief Executive Officer Michael Janse van Rensburg confirmed that the Heritage Appeal Tribunal referred both the CMP and the declaration back for further review.

“The site is protected in terms of S27, the highest form of protection in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act. This creates certainty and predictability for Local Authorities, homeowners and developers. It also allows procedurally fair and reasonable management of heritage resources within the Green Point Common,” said Mr Janse Van Rensburg.

According to a 36-page report issued by the Heritage Appeal Tribunal on February 25, the tribunal believes that the HWC must conduct a thorough investigation in identifying the tangible, immovable heritage assets on the site and applying the appropriate grading in accordance with the NHRA, which will aid in asset management and provide some predictability for the owners/leaseholders.

According to the report, the CMP should include more comprehensive clarity on the importance of the tangible attributes located on the common.

The report says that the HWC must revise the conditions and exemptions in the CMP in its current state, as well as address the tribunal’s concerns expressed in the directive issued.