Upset over St Monica’s demolition plan

The building that housed the old maternity hospital.

Bo-Kaap residents are once again upset at the lack of engagement surrounding a proposed development in their area.

The latest proposal involves the demolition of the old St Monica’s maternity hospital in Lion Street, and the development of a block of flats on the site.

Chairperson of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association, Osman Shaboodien, said residents were vehemently opposed to the proposal.

“The history of the building is very rich and we’re not happy with the manner it was sold off and now, it’s being replaced by a monstrous building that does not even fit it,” he said.

Mr Shaboodien added that there doesn’t seem to be a “credible traffic plan” to address how it will impact on the already crowded, narrow streets in the Bo-Kaap.

“Our major concern is the process. It is not taking into consideration its impact on heritage, traffic, residents and the ageing structures in Bo-Kaap,” he said.

Mr Shaboodien added that there were two schools nearby and the possible impact on them also had to be determined.

Developers, who are planning to build a block of flats on the site, submitted an application to Heritage Western Cape to determine the historical significance of some of the buildings that are older than 60 years.

Heritage Western Cape said the application for the partial demolition, additions and alterations had been tabled at the Built Environment and Landscape Committee (BELCom) on February 28.

However, said their CEO, Mxolisi Dlamuka, they had requested further information which would enable them to properly assess the application.

This included that the original architects and/or architectural teams responsible for the design of all buildings on the site be established, along with a fully developed chronology of how building and site development happened over time.

This, said Mr Dlamuka, would help to inform an integrated set of decisions regarding the heritage significance of all elements of the site, including the chapel and nursery components of the existing building complex, along with grading suggestions for exterior spaces and landscape elements of the complex.

Mr Dlamuka said the rocky outcrop was an important feature of the site which contributed enormously to its character and thus the proposals for the site should integrate the rocky outcrop in a creative and innovative way.

“The site sits on the edge of the mountain slope and therefore needs to respond to the natural environment as much as it responds to the urban. The scale has to be very carefully considered, and the design indicators, and any resulting design, must apply the greatest design sensitivity possible in this transition zone,” said Mr Dlamuka.

He went on to say that the extent of demolitions indicated in the proposal tabled needed to be reconsidered, and that heritage design indicators may well establish “no go” areas for development on the site.

Netcovax Communications Officer and Property Consultant, Julien Reynolds, confirmed that a demolition application had been submitted on behalf of Netcovax (Pty) Ltd, which is the owner of 38 Lion Street. He said all comments had been considered by the team. “We are currently waiting for further professional advice on the best way to proceed given the comments received. It is possible that we will need to submit a new application to accommodate the concerns,” he said.

He added that Netcovax was committed to ensuring that any development was sensitive and positive for the community and the City.

When we asked the City for their input, they said the matter was with Heritage Western Cape.