HASA comments to HWC – grading

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Good day

On BEHALF OF THE HERITAGE ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA

Here with comments as requested. Our detailed comments on the monuments section was sent yesterday as well as the record of where and when the decision to comment was taken.

Grading.

We refer to the categories set out in the document. These have not proved to reflect the situation as it exists. Heritage surveys have in many instances been undertaken with the objective of identifying areas of value for inclusion in areas for special attention (protection) by local authorities. This we know applies to the Drakenstein and Swartland and believe that they apply elsewhere, where the buildings were not inspected nor was any social significance considered or history researched.

The listing reports confirm the limitations that must be considered when assessing the individual grading. We have every reason to believe that this applies in most cases elsewhere.

It is thus impossible to assess the Grade 3c buildings in terms of the regulations proposed. (This was a decision of the ministers appeal committee at 22 Plein Street Paarl).

It is the recommendation of HASA that the principle applied in our justice system (rather let a man go free than convict an innocent man) be applied in that it is recommended that it is better to pursue an investigation if questions are raised than allow the loss of significance of a building). We believe that the terms of the act, emphasising the limitation of and non-renewability of the heritage resources, confirms our recommended approach.

We believe that the regulations are aimed at administrative efficiency rather than heritage protection.

We thus recommend that an additional category be created that lists buildings that have intrinsic or social value which have not been individually assessed. Every application should provide an assessment and comment from the local authorities and heritage bodies or provide for an inspection before a decision is made. The decision at 22 Plein Street is a perfect example of what can happen if the regulations as proposed are applied.

A further area of concern is the buildings included in an identified area of significance. In many cases the total area has more value than the individual site but it is the collective integrity that gives the area value. The question we pose for consideration is “can an individual building be graded lower than the grade of the area that it comprises part of?

It is the whole that must now be examined not the individual parts as the gradual loss of integrity of the parts, will impact upon the whole.

HASA also queries the 3c grading applied to a building outside of a recognised area. We ask “how can a building contribute to an area that does not exist?”. Any individual building graded, not included in an area, must automatically be a 3b.

Grade 2 sites

In the Western Cape all of the old National Monuments were proclaimed as Grade 2 sites in October of 2005. These fall within the ambit of section 27 and all decisions to add or alter their status etc. must comply with the provisions of section 27. HASA insists that the provision of section 27 and 5(4) be applied, as well as that approval for inclusion in a Grade 2 or Heritage Area is not required from these landowners.

Surveys

We refer the council to our previous comments that include references and consequences of surveys, especially when 3c buildings are blanket-graded, and the limitations of the survey information when the results are qualified. The reliance upon a survey which does not include an internal inspection, historical information etc. to allow the internal demolitions to proceed has been proven to be very suspect, leads applicants to a false sense of entitlement and results in conflict.

Definitions

The definition of disturbance needs to be added as this is subject to various interpretations. If the provisions of the act (alter, destroy move from etc.) are to widened, this needs to be carefully defined.

Areas normally include more than just buildings. Advertising, sidewalks, (material) trees etc. must/ should be subject to some form of approval and we believe that “disturbance “could be defined to include this aspect as the area is the product of the whole, not an addition of the parts.

Heritage resources/ Areas

While we appreciate the need to consult with landowners before proclamation / inclusion on the register the right of the heritage bodies included in the act 5(4), to comment and TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MANAGEMENT, is ignored in the guidelines. In fact the rights of heritage bodies (as well as interested and affected parties) are absent from the guidelines despite the number of times that they are referred to in the Act.

General

We believe that the role and rights of heritage bodies needs to be defined and set out in the guidelines. Reference in the guidelines to the process to be followed by consulting with the heritage bodies at the earliest opportunity and local participation in the management 5(4) needs to be a necessary initial step and included as such in the guidelines.

We thank you for the opportunity to comment but must add that for community bodies to meet, discuss and prepare comments on important documents such as this requires more time than is allowed .

HASA draws HWC’s attention to the provisions of section 3(1) of the regulations published on 24 September (PROCESS FOR PUBLICATION) “notify any conservation body “and questions if this was in fact implemented. We have affiliates who were not included?

HASA would appreciate adequate notification of the meeting where the policies will be decided as it may exercise its right to attend and participate in the decision-making process.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment

FOR The Heritage Association of South Africa

L. Raymond (Chair)

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