Civic seeks heritage status

A Claremont civic group is seeking heritage protection to stop “inappropriate” development.

The Upper Claremont Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association plans to apply for a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ) for the area between Newlands, Protea, Bishoplea and Osborne roads.

At its annual general meeting, the association’s chairman, Alexis van der Merwe, said inappropriate developments around 2016 and 2017 had hurt upper Claremont’s heritage.

Following discussions with Heritage Western Cape (HWC) and the City of Cape Town’s heritage resource department, concerned residents had realised they would need to register a civic body and then register as a heritage conservation body with HWC.

This process was completed at the start of 2018.

“Our body then started to research the history of our area and past research done by professionals and the City into the heritage value of the area.

“We rapidly became aware of the extensive and detailed past work done by the City and especially the 1994 report of Todeschini and Japha, namely the Newlands, Claremont, Kenilworth and Wynberg Conservation Study, which highlighted the important heritage value or significance of our area and recommended that the Claremont Village Special Area be declared.”

Mr Van der Merwe said they faced a terrible battle when it came to development and planning. They were not against densification and development but wanted to manage them more effectively, he said.

“Through our conservation body, we have learnt how to handle development requests in terms of our input. We have had some successes with HWC but not with the City.”

At the meeting, a resident said the community had helped to stop a proposed block of flats in Bishoplea Road.

“In the end, the developer had no choice but to refurbish the property as residents actively took part in objecting to this development,” the resident said.

Mr Van der Merwe said the HPOZ would ensure that future developments had to conform.

The association had started heritage survey work in the later part of 2019.

“The first step was to set up our survey team and the survey methodology. To do this, we were assisted by HWC, the City’s heritage department and heritage practitioners and professionals.

“Our team — which is primarily made up of residents and includes engineers, heritage professionals and planners — then commenced with the heritage survey and development of an inventory with maps, including building age, height, significance (grading), roof pitch and urban pattern and streetscape.”

Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, said development applications for properties in a HPOZ were assessed “more critically”.

There was, she said, no formal process for applying to declare an area a HPOZ.

The City’s spatial development framework had a general HPOZ overlay that identified the areas and places to be protected, she said.

“Each area or place has its own policy framework. Should a community want to be included in the HPOZ as an identified area, a request must be sent to the City’s heritage department who will assess the application and forward it to council for a decision.

“A process set out under the Municipal Planning By-Law describes the legislative process to be followed in terms of public consultation and approval by the city council. Should there be specific provisions required for the protection of the area, as opposed to the general protections, then these would be dealt with through an amendment to the Municipal Planning By-Law.”