New plans for heritage site

A new development where the old Noon Gun Tearoom used to be is in the works.

Several new buildings are being planned for the site of the historic Noon Gun Tearoom and Restaurant on Signal Hill.

The plans, which include cottages and a seven-room guest house, are in the final stages of planning.

The new owners hope to begin work at the site early next year.

The building is more than 60 years old and needs approval from Heritage Western Cape before demolition can happen.

One of the people behind the project, Cape Town designer, Gail Behr, said the development would be in keeping with the character of the Bo-Kaap.

“I don’t like greed, I’m not a great lover of modern architecture. What I didn’t want to do to that piece of land, because it is on the mountain, was to cover it in concrete.

We didn’t want something that attracted attention to itself. We wanted something sensitive, pretty and in-keeping with Bo-Kaap.”

She hopes the new building will be finished by December next year.

“This is a dream project and it is what I’ve rehearsed for my entire life,” said Ms Behr, who got her first fashion gig in the 1970s and says design is in her blood.

Architect Katlego Motene, who is based in Woodstock, said they were waiting for feedback from Heritage Western Cape. “The current structure is unsafe which is the reason we are in the process of applying for a demolition of the current site.”

The project’s preliminary costs, including the hiring of experts such as engineers,

would be about R25 million.

Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association (BKCRA) spokeswoman Jacky Poking said they were meeting this week to discuss the plans.

While they were satisfied with the architectural plans, they would be asking for an extension from Heritage Western Cape over the demolition application.

Certain heritage aspects needed to be considered, one of them being the noon gun just above the building, she said.

“We don’t have any problems with the scale as it is in line with the norms and standards but as a civic organisation we try to avoid demolitions.”

BKCRA chairman Osman Shaboodien said they were prepared to discuss the plans with the new owners.

Johan van der Merwe, mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, said no demolition application had been made to the City yet. It had, however, received an application to rezone the single-residential erf 386, which is part of the development, to allow for a guest house.

There had been no objections to that.

“A report will now have to be written and submitted to the Municipal Planning Tribunal for their decision. The building plan will only be considered after the land use application has been decided on,” said Mr Van der Merwe

Mxolisi Dlamuka, CEO of Heritage Western Cape (HWC), said they had not yet received an application for demolition at the site.

A building 60 years or older had general protection under the country’s heritage laws, he noted, which meant anyone wanting to alter, add to or demolish it had to get an HWC permit.