Residents celebrate ruling

An artisits impression of the proposed development

Bo-Kaap residents are celebrating after a developer’s appeal against a Heritage Western Cape (HWC) ruling relating to a proposed development in the area, was dismissed.

The matter dates back to December last year when developers, Any Side Investments, proposed significant changes to their development plan for 150 Buitengracht Street, which had been given the go-ahead in 2007.

When this application was turned down by HWC’s Built Environment and Landscape Committee, the developers appealed the decision.

This appeal, however, was dismissed, (“Developer’s appeal dismissed,” Atlantic Sun, February 28) and subsequently escalated to the Cultural Affairs and Sports Independent Appeal Tribunal – which also dismissed the appeal, describing the multi-storey building with an architectural language that is alien to the current heritage environment, as an “unsympathetic response” to the heritage sites adjacent to it.

The proposed plan included the construction of a nine-storey mixed-use development next to the historic Auwal Mosque, which would include retail and short-term rentals with five parking bays.

According to the Tribunal’s ruling: “The cohesion and nature of this historic built environment disappear only when one crosses over Wale Street as you progresses down Buitengracht Street northwards towards Table Bay. These new much bulkier and taller buildings are problematic in themselves as they have formed a chasm along the street and effectively cut off the Bo-Kaap from the city, particularly visually.

“We are of the view that the permissible bulk, scale and height of the new development on this site is inappropriate for the environment in which it is situated, which as was observed during the site visit, consists of fine grained, small scale buildings primarily residential in nature, the height whereof are almost entirely one or two stories and environs with the minarets of the neighbouring mosques serving as landmark elements in the built fabric.”Residents were concerned that the development would tower over the surrounding buildings and was out of character with historic Bo-Kaap buildings.

Bo Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association’s (BKCRA) chairperson,Osman Shaboodien, said their legal advisor had argued in their opposition to the appeal that the proposed building would have a negative impact not only on the built environment but the social fabric of the Bo-Kaap community. They argued that it would add to the destruction of the “living heritage”, the intangible heritage of Bo-Kaap, that is unique.

“We have received with great joy the decision of the Independent Appeal Tribunal, dismissing the appeal by Any Side Investment for 150 Buitengracht Street in Bo-Kaap.

“BKCRA has been in the forefront of protecting our heritage long before we received heritage status. We received well deserved recognition not because of the 19 heritage sites but it was for our persistence and activism over the years in protecting our heritage and dignity,” he said.In response to the dismissal of their appeal, the director of Any Side Investments, Zane De Decker, is reported to have said that an anti-development sentiment had been growing in the city, with approximately R30 billion in developments currently being “held up” by bodies like HWC.

He said they were shocked and disappointed that the committee members of HWC would choose the old scheme over the new. He said it was clear that they were operating in a politically-charged environment.

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