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Public participation recommended for overlay zone to protect Bo-Kaap heritage

This morning, 4 December 2018, the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee resolved to support the designation of the Bo-Kaap as a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ), and made the recommendation that Council approve a public participation process for the proposal at its next meeting.

The City is committed to preserving and celebrating the rich and diverse cultures and heritage of our communities, and I feel privileged today to share in the Mayoral Committee’s decision to initiate the process to provide the Bo-Kaap with the heritage protection that it deserves.

The Bo-Kaap is one of our most iconic areas with its rich history and unique architecture. Many Bo-Kaap families have been living there for generations, and have contributed significantly to our cultural heritage. The City recognises that this heritage should be protected. We therefore recommended to Council today that the City undertake a public participation process about the proposal that the Bo-Kaap be included in a Heritage Protection Overlay as a mechanism for the protection of the area’s unique historical landscape and heritage. Council will pronounce on this recommendation at its next meeting on 13 December.

It is regrettable that this matter has been delayed for so long since Councillor Dave Bryant first proposed an HPOZ for the Bo-Kaap via a motion to Subcouncil 16 in 2013.

At the time, the City’s then Heritage Department embarked on a public participation process with local civic bodies and residents, and the HPOZ was advertised in late 2015.

In 2016 the process was halted and the HPOZ for the Bo-Kaap was put on hold indefinitely. In early 2018, Ward 77 Councillor Brandon Golding submitted another motion to Subcouncil 16 requesting that the HPOZ for the Bo-Kaap be implemented with immediate effect and that reasons be given for the delay.

It is clear that the majority of this administration has always wanted to honour and protect the Bo-Kaap. With a new leadership in place, we will ensure that there are no further unnecessary delays.

Due to the period of time that has passed, officials from the City’s Heritage Management Department have advised that a new round of public participation will need to take place. We want to ensure that we follow due process and that we do not cut corners in dealing with this very serious matter.

However, should Council agree with the Mayoral Committee’s recommendation, we will ensure that the public participation process is undertaken as soon as possible, and that this process is conducted with the necessary urgency and intent.

It is important to note that an HPOZ does not prevent development from taking place. The zoning of a property includes both the base zoning and overlay zoning and, as such, the HPOZ requires the City to consider, in addition to the base zoning, the impact on heritage significance where alternations, consolidations, demolitions, or new developments are proposed on properties that fall within the HPOZ. Thus, in considering whether or not to approve a development application, the City’s Development Management Department must take into account any impact which the proposed development may have on the heritage of the area included in the HPOZ.

An HPOZ therefore ensures that where there is development it is sensitive to the area’s architecture, community, and history. The HPOZ applies to all areas covered by the overlay and in this case it is proposed that the Bo-Kaap Heritage Protection Overlay extends from Carisbrook Street to Strand Street, and from the foot of Lion’s Head/Signal Hill to Buitengracht.

Importantly, an HPOZ does not affect ownership, neither the selling or buying of property.

The people of the Bo-Kaap deserve a speedy resolution to this matter. This administration is committed to ensuring that there are no further delays in finalising the proposal to protect the Bo-Kaap’s heritage and culture.

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