‘An eyesore and wasted space’

The abandoned old Rosebank Primary School has become an eyesore and a haven for criminals.

The abandoned and badly vandalised old Rosebank Primary School has become an eyesore and is a “waste of space”, say residents, who say they have been putting up with the problem for long enough.

On Sawkins Road in Rosebank, the building is on the books of the provincial Department of Public Works and was previously used as a school and medical facility, but was abandoned and became a target for vandals.

Residents also claim the building provides easy access to neighbouring properties in Liesbeeck Road, resulting in a number of thefts and break-ins.

Gill Lanham is one of those frustrated residents who wishes to see something being done to the property. But, she said: “No effort on the part of province to either maintain the building, nor actively seek an occupant or solution, together with the broad community, is being made.”

Ms Lanham said the Rosebank and Mowbray Planning and Aesthetics Committee (RAMPAC), which reports to the Rosebank and Mowbray Civic Association (RMCA), favoured and was pursuing an option to turn the building into a children’s hospice, but added that “it seemed to have come to nought”.

“This became a bit of a contentious issue,” Ms Lanham said.

“It was felt that the RMCA was seeking use for this building without consultation. Finally, a viewing of the interior of the building was arranged and interested stakeholders were invited to attend and present their interest. For example, an educare; art centre; storage for equipment for the Friends of the Rondebosch Common; a day centre, such as the Welcome Club at Valkenberg for outpatients; a meeting place for all the various Friends groups, such as Common/Liesbeek River/Rosebank and Mowbray Greenbelt, were some of the options,” Ms Lanham said.

She explained that if the building were to be restored, it could be used as a community resource.

“I am appalled that province can let a building deteriorate to this extent,” she told the Tatler. “This seems to be becoming a regular occurrence with both provincial and municipal properties.

“No maintenance, let them deteriorate, then sell to developers or demolish.”

Another Rosebank resident, Engsley Thompson, fears the building could hurt property values, particularly because residents believe criminals are using the site.

“On many occasions, you would see guys scouting the place, looking for ways to get in. (There was a) guy breaking off parts of the building and there were people who even used the building as a hideout.

“This problem has been around for a long time and it only seems like whoever is responsible for it, firstly, does not care about its state and, secondly, it seems as if they’re allowing it to fall into a state of disrepair so that they can pull off a quick sale,” he said, adding: “So that tomorrow, they can propose some crazy development plans that would give us so many more headaches.

“This is really just a waste of space.”

RMCA chair Jonathan Hobday, said he was fully aware of the situation around the old school. “It’s not an issue that is going away,” he said.

To his understanding, the province had put the building out to tender, but there were some heritage aspects to take into consideration.

He was aware that a proposal had been made to turn the building into a hospice for terminally ill children, but could not confirm the details thereof.

“This is a lengthy process to follow. It’s gone out to tender and there was a bid made.

“We, as a community, want something done, as it is a security concern for our community,” Mr Hobday added.

“It’s totally undesirable for it not to be used. We are deeply concerned as a community.

“We want this eyesore to be removed and the building has to be used appropriately,” he said.

The Tatler sent a detailed list of questions through to the provincial Department of Public Works, but they were unable to respond at the time of publishing.

The Tatler will publish their response as soon as we receive it.