Heritage battle won

Municipal heritage status for the Bo-Kaap has been approved.

Bo-Kaap residents have been victorious in their plea for the area to be declared an heritage protection overlay zone (HPOZ) after it was approved by the council last Thursday, March 28.

This is a battle residents have been fighting since 2013.

In the past two years, they have been furiously protesting against massive developments going up and demanding that Bo-Kaap be declared a heritage site.

Former ward councillor Dave Bryant first proposed an HPOZ for the Bo-Kaap through a motion to Sub-council 16 in 2013, however, the process was stopped and the HPOZ put on hold indefinitely.

Due to the period of time that had passed after the first public participation, City officials from the heritage management department advised late last year that a new round of public participation would need to take place.

The public participation process ran from January 18 to February 22 this year and included a sector hearing where community-based organisations and the business sector made oral presentations.

About 2298 comments were received of which 2271 were in support of the proposal for the HPOZ.

The Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association (BKCRA) said they welcomed the decision made by council.

Chairperson Osman Shaboodien said: “We know that it is not a magic wand that will solve all our problems, but it is a step in the right direction.”

The main purpose of an HPOZ is to, among other things, prevent inappropriate development and alterations within an area of significant heritage value. It also allows the City to impose conditions on an approval to ensure that the heritage value of the building or site is protected or enhanced.

According to the City, the HPOZ will become effective once published in the Provincial Gazette. Mayor Dan Plato said the council’s approval marks a pivotal moment for the Bo-Kaap.

“The City has officially committed to conserving the unique historical landscape and way of life in the Bo-Kaap by managing development in a sustainable and considered manner,” he said.

Mr Plato said the community was entering a new chapter where residents and landowners can actively promote it as a heritage tourist destination to the benefit of the local community, as well as the broader Cape Town.

“I personally want to thank all of those who have persevered, and I want to commend those who have participated in the recent public participation process for their commitment and constructive contributions,” he said.

The City’s mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, Marian Nieuwoudt said: “Evidently, those who participated want the City to protect the Bo-Kaap’s long-term sustainability as a cultural asset. By including the Bo-Kaap in an HPOZ we will ensure that this uniqueness is harnessed and promoted for future generations and visitors.”

However, Mr Shaboodien said they were disappointed to note that the amendments proposed by the ANC’s caucus leader Xolani Sotashe had bee rejected.

Mr Sotashe attended a community meeting last Tuesday, March 26, at which residents requested that he raise some of the issues with council.

According to Mr Sotashe, these issues included a legal representation to be given to Bo-Kaap residents whose properties were affected by current developments and a moratorium on all developments in Bo-Kaap.

Mr Sotashe said: “Residents complained that the developments in the area have negatively affected them and they seek reparations. I raised these issues to the council but the DA rejected all of them.”

Mr Shaboodien said: “We want to thank Councillor Sotashe for taking our request to council and we say ‘baie tramakasie’ to those councillors that supported his/our amendments. We again call on the mayor to launch an independent investigation into the deliberate delay of the HPOZ, the reasons why and who benefited. We further call for a moratorium on all development approved or pending while this investigation is happening, and we await the findings.”