HASA chair comments to Premier

To  Premier Helen Zille,

 

I refer to  correspondence  between yourself and  Anne Nurock  where  the Heritage Association of SA (HASA) and specifically the Drakenstein Heritage Foundation (DHF) are quoted. I am the  current  chairman of HASA  and the immediate past chairman of the DHF as well as the signature to the letters quoted.

While I do not want to  intercede in the processes underway,  I feel the need to  communicate the  concern  of the bodies that I represent  in respect of the direction that Heritage Western Cape  is taking. It  is a common belief in the  heritage conservation community that Heritage Western Cape  is neglecting its primary responsibility as set out in the Heritage Act , in the Provincial Gazette as well as in its own annual report viz. that of promoting and protecting our Heritage. Instead, it strives for administrative  efficiency at the cost of  our heritage  as well as  the rights of the conservation community as guaranteed by the various Acts.

I do not want to  overload you with detailed  complaints but would request your assistance  in ensuring that we obtain an urgent interview  with the new Minister before he goes on sick leave  to consider the following principle areas of concern.

1)     The fact that, in its Appeals committees (including the Minister’s Appeal committee)  there is no representation  of conservation bodies or  conservation orientated persons or owners of heritage properties. We would like to establish, in agreement with the Minister, a rotating panel  to serve on these appeal committees. This is  motivated by the commonly held belief that  the tribunals are not truly independent  but are  handpicked to support HWC ‘s decisions.

 

2)     The  make-up of the council of HWC and its committees are dominated by persons who either have, or  will be, submitting plans or whose associates  and business partners  regularly submit applications to HWC. We believe that, either deliberately or subconsciously, their private interests are best served by lowering the standards of protection of heritage applied to applications. In our opinion, this could be controlled by ensuring that conservation bodies are represented  in the  decision making process of the committees that directly decide these issues and thus set the standards

3)     The failure of HWC  to consult with the Heritage community in setting the standards  for grading and thus protection. This is

represented in the differing opinions of the city council’s department and HWC.

4)     The  hurdles placed in the way of registration of conservation bodies, the  problems with notifications and comments as well as the failure of HWC  to ensure a substantially fair process  of  notifications  to ensure that the conservation bodies have  their right of appeal .

This aspect is highlighted by HWC advertising that it was closed, closing its front desk but insisting that the appeal periods run during their closure. This is counter to the general policy of the Western Cape’s other departments

I would like to make a call to you to ensure that the new minister suspends all  Appeal hearings until  a truly independent panel from which the Appeals committees must be selected can be agreed  with the registered conservation bodies.

Thank you for your interest in our heritage

 

Len Raymond

CHAIRMAN

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