1 December 2015
For attention: Heidi Boise
The Chief Executive Officer
Dept. of Cultural Affairs and Sport
Green Market Street
COMMENTS FOR HWC ON THE PROPOSAL FOR ERF 4431, 27 MiLL STREET, CHEVE HOUSE, PAARL DRAKENSTEIN, CAPE WINELANDS
The DHF attended the B.E.L.com meeting when the matter was discussed. The matter had been previously before B.E.L.com where the corrected historical/ social history report from the DHF was acknowledged and according to the minutes MR were to integrate this with their report.
There had been a site inspection but the DHF were not given sufficient notice to allow them to attend (less than 24 hours).
It was the opinion of the DHF that MR report had been designed to facilitate their proposal and the DHF was very interested in seeing this integrated report and proposal. The DHF was of the opinion that many very important issues with regard to the heritage protection of this property needed to be disclosed as well as the importance of the surrounding area and the role that this building was intended to play in the presentation of this area. The fact that the integrated report was never delivered to the DHF was placed on record at the meeting but ignored.
The DHF are of the opinion that the application form Annexure A required to accompany every application should/ would detail all of these factors that would be required if the B.E.L.com were to apply their minds to all the facts surrounding the application. In terms of section 5 (4) of the act in order to play the role designated in the act it was essential that this form be delivered to the heritage body for their comment and assessment prior to the matter being laid before B.E.L.com for their consideration. This was never done and at the meeting the legal advisor of HWC informed the B.E.L.com that the heritage bodies were not entitled to insist upon seeing this form before commenting. This fact was disputed by the DHF’s representative at the meeting without any satisfaction.
The property in question is registered in the name of the Province but had been given to the DHF under very specific conditions in respect of its restoration. This never formed any part of the application or documentation presented to the B.E.L.com. At the meeting MR submitted that they were very well aware of the transaction, he having played a role in the planning acquisition of and conditions applied to the property in the 1980s when it was given to the DHF as well as the formation of the trust to restore the building . MR must also have been aware of the undertaking given by the current applicants to restore the building. This was not disclosed in any documentation disclosed to the DHF. In terms of the mandate set in the definition of management in the NHRA combined with the state’s responsibility in terms of section 9, the undertakings, plans and details set out in the permit previously obtained by the DHF (and still in force as work started) which formed part of the agreement with the DHF must be implemented.
The DHF acknowledges the fact that the B.E.L.com mandate does not require them to investigate and recommend other options and accepts that if the application was from a private individual the application and decision would be a fair result.
As the building is state owned, the ground rules change considerably .This is clearly set out in section 9 of the act, which the HWC legal advisors after a quick reading (privately at the meeting) pronounced as groundless. The DHF disputes this interpretation of the act and submits that the responsibilities of the state in respect of its assets should require the department completes the intention to restore the buildings in terms with the grant. The minimum that will be required is for S.A.H.R.A. to consult their records and those of the NMC before a decision is made after consultations with all the parties. It may be that HWC after consulting the results of the enquiry by SARAH would need to issue a permit (this is disputed) but according to our understanding of the section, HWC cannot act until the provisions regarding submission to and consultation by SAHRA are complied with.
The DHF refers to the same B.E.L.com meeting where Morgenson in Swellendam was discussed and refers the B.E.L.com to their assessment of their value placed on this asset. In essence these 2 buildings have come a similar route, donated by the province for restoration to protect their special social and positional values. Cheve is substantially older, better recorded in photographs and is the family house of at least 2 of the oldest South African families as well as one of the earliest general dealers in the country and pre-dates Morgenson by some 50 years. The only real difference is that the one is currently restored, the other not. The DHF believes that applying section 9 commitments to this state asset must lead to the basic restoration which will include the reinstatement of the original roof shape, the reinstatement of the gables , the front door and the removal from the south and west facades of the later stoep. In accordance with the grading for Morgenson this would elevate this building from its present iiiA (by BELcom) to the iiA assessed to Morgenson. It is the state’s responsibility in accordance with the statutes to ensure that this is undertaken.
The applicants, apart from their failure to fulfil their undertakings to restore the building as per their undertakings , have also failed to follow the procedure in their quest to destroy an essential aspect of our heritage . The DHF believes that with full disclosure of all the aspects including the heritage effect on the oldest wagon road in the country and this most important historic area, the failure to disclose the financial contribution promised by the DHF (provide the front gable and door at minimum) the requirements of section 9 would not have been complied with (in the event that HWC act with authority, which we contest). These issues were not included in the report assessed by the DHF but must form part of the annexure A application, thus the insistence upon receipt of this information.
In any event the representative from the DHF insisted at the B.E.L.com meeting that the latest proposal (for the meeting on 2/12/2015) be sent to the DHF for comment. This has not transpired and the DHF protests in the strongest possible manner to the applicant’s disregard of the provisions of the act in respect of interested parties throughout this application.