Sea Point residents are pleased that Heritage Western Cape (HWC) has turned down an application from a developer to demolish Winchester Mansions.
An application to demolish the Arcadia building, which is attached to the hotel and which is more than 60 years old, raised concern among residents who had also asked that the cut-off date for objections to the plans be extended by the City of Cape Town (“Winchester Mansions development raises concern”, Atlantic Sun, October 29).
The developers said at the time that the application would enable them to upgrade the current four-star hotel to a five-star facility. The proposal would have seen the building knocked to the ground and replaced with a nine-storey facilty.
It appears that for now, this significant Sea Point landmark will remain intact.
Johan van der Merwe, the City’s mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, confirmed to the Atlantic Sun that the applicant had withdrawn the land use application.
The Sea Point, Fresnaye, Bantry Bay Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, said in their original objection letter to that they rejected the proposed demolition. “We acknowledge that the hotel has existed on this site for 90 years, we cannot and will not accept the risk to the affluent residential character of the beachfront by future business creep should the hotel cease operating in the future and the redeveloped complex, with business rights, be further redeveloped for non-residential and/or other business or commercial purposes and uses.”
City Bowl resident Mark Jackson was happy to hear that the building would not be touched.
“What made me interested initially was the newspaper articles about it.
“I grew up in Cape Town and would like it to be more accessible and not exclude people through developments.”
Luke Stevens, who is involved with heritage matters on the Green Point Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (GPRRA), said the decision brought some relief. He added that it had been a misguided proposal from a business perspective as the principle appeal of the Winchester Mansions lies in the heritage character of the hotel’s buildings.
“From a neighbourhood point of view, the property is a highly visible landmark that has a significant cultural, heritage and aesthetic influence. This acts not just on the block bounded by Hall Road and Norfolk Road but also on a significant stretch of the Sea Point promenade.
“The requested change of zoning would also have permitted an increase in allowable coverage to 100%. This would have had a further detrimental effect on the immediate area by constricting the natural ‘gateway’ at the corner of Hall Road and Beach road. This would have been more broadly felt along the promenade, causing the remaining, main hotel building to recede somewhat,” added Mr Stevens.
He said the Cape Town Zoning Scheme, was promulgated in 2013 and its provisions are contemporary and relevant.
“The Winchester Mansions site occupies a highly visible location with significant public exposure: there would have been no good reason to allow any departures from the CTZS conditions for such a property.”
Tommy Brummer, of Tommy Brümmer Town Planners, confirmed their withdrawal of the application.
“It was withdrawn as the demolition application for the Arcadia Building was refused by Heritage Western Cape. I do not know what our client’s plans are regarding future possible extensions.”
Ward councillor Jacques Weber, declined to comment on the matter, saying that the matter could be heard in sub-council in the future.