Heritage overlay finally moving forward

Cape Town - 181217 - Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mtethwa said he is fully commited to the process to declare Bo-Kaap a National Heritage Site. He said this during a visit to the disputed area on Reconciliation Day. Picture: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)

The Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association (BKCRA) has expressed their relief that the Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ) is finally moving forward after a three-year delay.

In a statement released after public hearings this past week, the association thanked the residents who had braved rain and wind, day after day to stand on the streets protesting the lack of heritage protection in the area.

“We request that the HPOZ is approved immediately, and at the same time, we demand assurances around our concerns. As set out in the City’s HPOZ guideline document, we look forward to partnering with the City’s officials to work on the specific provisions in terms of the Development Management Scheme (which) must still be developed and implemented after the designation of the HPOZ,” read the statement

They said it was important that the broader community of Cape Town, South Africa and internationally understood that it was not the heritage value of private houses or individual properties that was at immediate risk in Bo-Kaap. These have always been protected by the Heritage Act of 1999 and building plan applications for heritage houses have always been submitted to the heritage authorities. So, the proposed HPOZ does not change much of the status quo.

“The most pressing and immediate concerns of Bo-Kaap residents are the high-rise developments currently in progress (eg 117 Strand St, 40 Lion Street), the developments that are not yet built yet approved (eg the building on Rose and Buitengracht Street), as well as any future high-rise developments within the Bo-Kaap boundaries. High-rise developments are allowed in terms of the current Zoning Scheme (now called the DMS),” they said.

Residential properties with zoning reference GR4 are allowed to reach up to eight- to nine storeys (24m); commercial properties also eight- to nine storeys (25m), and business properties can go as high as 12 to 20 storeys (60m), with zoning references of Mixed Use 2 (MU2) and Mixed Use 3 (MU3) respectively.

“These development rights – currently part of the proposed HPOZ within the Development Management Scheme (old Zoning Scheme) – is at odds and out of place with the heritage character and culture of the Bo-Kaap.

“The Bo Kaap social and cultural environment will remain at high risk unless more detailed height and development restrictions are introduced and legislated as part of the HPOZ,” the BKRCA said .

“As formulated, the current version is in contravention with the spirit and intent of the HPOZ. It is of great and grave concern to the Bo-Kaap community to hear the mayor announce at the public hearing on Bo-Kaap HPOZ on Saturday February 9 that development rights will not be restricted,” the statement read.

“The statement – repeated twice in the course of the same day on Saturday – is at odds with the City’s current proposed HPOZ document for Bo-Kaap, which clearly states on page 14: ‘An overlay zone may vary the development rules or use rights relating to a property or area, or may set new development rules or use rights’,” they said.

The civic association said most Bo-Kaap buildings were one to three storeys.