Dear Premier Zille,
I am a resident of Green Point and an executive member of the Green Point Rate Payers and Residents Association (GPRRA), responsible for the association’s heritage portfolio.
I am writing to you on behalf of the GPRRA in a desperate appeal for your assistance in addressing the alarming demolition of heritage homes/ buildings in the Western Cape, in general, and the city of Cape Town, in particular. Statistics released by Andrew Hall, CEO of Heritage Western Cape (HWC) reveal that since January 2013, HWC has approved applications for the demolition of 302 heritage homes/ buildings in the province. ( refer statistics attached). This is a staggering number yet the public at large remains unaware of this. It has also come to our attention that the Heritage Association of South Africa (HASA) is also extremely alarmed by the above statistics, particularly with regard to the downgrading of these properties, and approval thereof (see letter attached)
While we fully support development in the Western Cape, we cannot allow our irreplaceable history and heritage to be destroyed.
This disturbing trend should be viewed in the light of a recent appeal that was lodged with the Provincial Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport by the owners of 8 Romney Road Green Point and developers, Signatura, against the decision of the Appeals Committee of Heritage Western Cape in May 2014 to overturn a total demolition permit that was granted in March 2014 by the Built Environment and Landscape Committee of Heritage Western Cape. It should be noted that 8 Romney Road has been identified by the Association as a heritage resource worthy of protection. Prior to the appeal, 250 Green Point residents signed a petition to protect 8 Romney Road and after the appeal had been won, close to 700 people welcomed this decision via the Face Book page “Cape Town Down Memory Lane” and other relevant group pages.
In coming to its decision the Appeals Committee of HWC had applied the principles in the National Heritage Resources Act and all the relevant provisions of that Act. The Appeals Committee also recognised that this Act must be interpreted in the light of the Constitution and the principle of sustainable development whereby the environment is held in public trust for the people, that the beneficial use of environmental resources must serve the public interest and that the environment must be protected as the people’s common heritage.
As emphasised by the co-chairperson of the GPRRA, Mark Magielse: “The historical value of the building at 8 Romney Road is that its intact fabric dates to the early origins of the growth and development of Green Point and clearly illustrates a historical period in the evolution of Green Point. There is substantial local interest as indicated in the conservation of 8 Romney Road. The Simon van der Stel Foundation, the Habitat Council, and several interested and affected parties also supported the Association’s appeal”
Mr Magielse reiterates that 8 Romney Road and a number of other conservation-worthy buildings that survive in the area all contribute to the context, matrix and fabric of the character of Green Point. The City of Cape Town also regards the property as having high local significance and wishes to protect the property.
For this reason, the GPRRA is particularly dismayed that the owners of 8 Romney Road have seen fit to launch an appeal to the Western Cape Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Sport, given that the Appeals Committee of HWC had extensively dealt with the merits of the Association’s appeal against the demolition permit.
Our concerns have been compounded by the fact that since August 2012, the Drakenstein Heritage Foundation has sent numerous requests to the CEO of HWC, Andrew Hall, querying the downgrading of the status of ”National Monuments”, by their former owners. All correspondence has gone unanswered. The downgrading of these is in contravention of the new National Heritage Resources AHRA Act. (see letter attached)Similar decisions and demolition permits have been granted by HWC in Fresnaye, Waterkant, Vredehoek, Bakoven and many other suburbs. There has been a long process of attrition due the demolition of a number of old buildings in Green Point and other areas of Cape Town that are further cause for grave concern. The cumulative impact of a series of these demolitions over time is having a detrimental impact on the character of the city, this suburb and irrevocably destroying its’ very soul.
The appeal by the Ministerial Tribunal as to whether or not the demolition permit for 8 Romney Road should be reinstated is to take place on the 14th January at 1pm. The GPRRA will be opposing this appeal. We are also urging concerned residents of Cape Town to unite against this appeal and stop the rapid and ongoing destruction of our heritage resources. If 8 Romney Road is not saved, it will not just be another statistic in addition to the other 302 heritage buildings/ homes that have been demolished or earmarked for demolition in the past just 16 months
Premier Zille, we are appealing for your intervention. While we have no objection to development, we strongly object to our heritage being destroyed. The devastation wrought by its destruction not only impacts irrevocably on our history but also on the present and future of our beloved city.
Relationship Audits and Management
Dear Ms Nurock, thank you for your letter. As I understand it, Minister Theuns Botha is the ultimate appeal authority for Heritage matters. It is essential that your appeal should reach him. He has to be sure to apply his kind in an unbiased and objective manner, according to the law. I will forward your letter to him, with a request to revert to you.
Once again, thank you for writing to me.