Cape Town – The Bo-Kaap community and land activists have hailed a Heritage Western Cape (HWC) decision to dismiss an appeal for development in the historically significant area.
Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association secretary Jacky Poking said the HWC Appeals Committee dismissed developer Any Side Investments’ appeal, regarding their proposed development of erf 3032, 150 Buitengracht Street.
The proposed building is a nine-storey mixed use development next to the historic Auwal Mosque on Buitengracht Street. It includes retail and short term rentals.
Any Side Investments had appealed a decision by HWC on December 12, 2018, where the Built Environment and Landscape Committee did not approve their proposal of a significant amendment to a set of plans that were approved in 2007.
The developers were hoping to amend some of the conditions that formed part of the 2007 record of decision.
Activists charged that the development would tower over the surrounding buildings and was out of character with historic Bo-Kaap buildings.
According to HWC, the appeals committee felt that the development proposal was “insensitive to the heritage context of Bo-Kaap”.
Any Side Investments were of the view that they had the right to build according to the old plans if they were not successful in the appeal for their amended proposal, said the association’s representative, advocate Winston Erasmus.
He argued that the developers were employing bullying tactics by threatening to build in this manner.
Erasmus said at the time the 2007 Record of Decision was made, there was not yet any formal discussion within the City and the Bo-Kaap community regarding the protection of the Bo Kaap’s heritage.
“Now that it is imminent through the declaration of the Bo-Kaap Heritage Overlay Zone and National Heritage status, it was recommended that the appeals committee ought to consider the appeal in this light,” he said.
Property co-owner Zane De Decker yesterday said an anti- development sentiment had been growing in the city, with approximately R30billion in developments currently being “held up” by bodies like HWC.
“This development would have created up to 500 sorely-needed jobs for construction industry employees for a period of up to two years.
"Permanent jobs would also be created. Our case is unusual in that we were simply asking for a change in design to an approved building,” De Decker said.
“We were of course shocked and disappointed that the committee members of HWC would choose the old scheme over the new. It is clear that we are operating in a politically-charged environment.
“With engagements currently ongoing around a heritage overlay, it seems the committee is stymied.
“What we have now is an environment of stagnation. When investors are forced to go away, areas decline,” De Decker added.
The ANC Youth League meanwhile welcomed the decision, saying in a statement that the height, density, street interface and architectural detail of the proposed design resulted in a “monstrosity” fuelled by greed for profit-making at the expense of the residents of the Bo-Kaap.