File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Bo-Kaap residents are preparing to appeal a Western Cape High Court judgment that dismissed their objection against a “monster building” in Buitengracht Street.

The area’s Civic and Ratepayers Association, as well as the 35 on Rose Body Corporate, and Fabio Todeschini challenged, among others, the decision by the City’s Municipal Planning Tribunal to grant Buitengracht Properties development rights on two sites, one of which was partially in the city centre heritage protection overlay zone, and the decision by the mayor, acting in her capacity as the appeal authority to uphold consents.

Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association chairperson Osman Shaboodien said they argued that the planned 60m tall building would negatively impact on the social fabric of the historic area by worsening segregation.

They also argued that the building would mean a traffic headache for the area, as no traffic assessment had been done.

“We are very disappointed that the court found against us, and we are planning to appeal it,” Shaboodien said.

Heritage Western Cape (HWC) acted as an intervening party, and sought an order declaring that development on the erf may not be granted without its permission.

In an affidavit before the court HWC chief executive Mxolisi Dlamuka said the development would destroy the essence of the relationship between Bo-Kaap and the City.

Dlamuka argued that the declaration it sought would “clear the decks” for proper consideration of the development.

“The assertion that development has already occurred in the area between Buitengracht Street and Rose Street seems to ignore the parameters on which these declarations were based. They occurred in the 1960s and 1970s at the height of apartheid planning when the local (not white) community was ignored in favour of the economic needs and demands of the white business sector. That this should become the basis of continuing to isolate the Bo-Kaap seems extraordinary in the 21st century. Creating a barrier to the Bo-Kaap must be the antithesis of what inclusive, democratic planning should be developing,” Dlamuka charged.

Mayco member for transport and urban development Brett Herron said the City argued that it had followed proper process, considered all objections, considered the heritage impact, and had taken into account all of the applicable City policies.

“Much of the argument was about the heritage impact. In this regard it is important to note that the development proposal was to locate most of its bulk, or massing, on the Buitengracht Street edges - a high order road - and to reduce the scale of the building along Rose Street so as to respond appropriately to the historic Bo-Kaap urban form - ie, the Bo-Kaap cottages that front on Rose Street,” Herron said.

On the Rose Street side of the development the development proposal is to reduce the scale of the building to three storeys - in keeping with the neighbouring properties.

“A condition of approval was that the architecture along Rose Street had to demonstrate sensitivity to existing Bo-Kaap architecture,” Herron said.