“The Green Point Ratepayers’ and Residents Association says tomorrow’s decision on the proposed demolition of a 122-year-old building will be a “turning point” in its battle against Heritage Western Cape to preserve historical structures in the area.
The proposed demolition of 8 Romney Road, built in 1893, would be the ‘last straw’ for residents.
In the past 16 months, Heritage Western Cape, the provincial heritage resources agency, has approved demolition applications for a “staggering” 302 historical buildings, said Mark Magielse, chairman of the ratepayers’ and residents’ association.
The proposed demolition of 8 Romney Road, built in 1893, would be the “last straw” for concerned residents.
“We have only one agenda, and that is to protect the heritage in our area,” said Magielse.
Similar demolition permits have been granted by Heritage Western Cape for buildings in Fresnaye, the Waterkant, Vredehoek and Bakoven.
Heritage Western Cape granted the demolition order for Romney Road in March last year, but this was overturned a few months later after the ratepayers’ association appealed against the decision.
The developer Signatura then appealed to the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport. The hearing takes place tomorrow.
Magielse said that while a new development would provide some jobs, heritage buildings needed regular maintenance which would also create employment. “Yes, demolishing the building will mean quick money, but there will be no long-term benefits.”
No 8 Romney Road was significant in that the well-preserved Victorian building harked back to the early growth of Green Point.
The Habitat Council and the Heritage Association of South Africa backed the association’s objection to the demolition.
The heritage association is also concerned about the more than 300 demolitions since January 2013 and the downgrading of historical buildings.
A heritage site at 17 Disant Avenue, Fresnaye, was demolished to make way for this house..
In an e-mail to its members, the association’s Len Raymond said he was concerned that Heritage Western Cape’s annual reports did not reflect these figures. “I feel that in relation to Heritage’s mission, vision and the intention/principles of the National Heritage Resources Act, these statistics need serious examination.”
But Andrew Hall of Heritage Western Cape said yesterday that many of these buildings were not formally protected in terms of heritage legislation. They were simply buildings of 60 years which meant that they had to be assessed even though they did not have any historical significance.
“The 302 sites demolished do not include a single former national monument.”
The ratepayers’ and residents association has appealed to Premier Helen Zille to intervene.
In a response on the Heritage Association of South Africa’s website, she said Theuns Botha, new MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport, was the “ultimate appeal authority” for heritage matters.
“He has to be sure to apply his mind in an unbiased and objective manner, according to the law,” she said.
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