Residents urge De Lille to stop Bo-Kaap development

The proposed development of a 19-storey, 60 meter tall building in the heart of Bo-Kaap has residents up in arms as they feel this will not only cut off the views of this historic part of the city but also further divide the neighbourhood from the city.

The proposed development with the Bo-Kaap neighbourhood and Signal Hill behind it (Image via Bridges not Barriers)

The area, which is currently in the process of being designated as a Heritage Overlay Zone, which would mean increased protection on heritage grounds, is known for its brightly coloured houses, cobble-stoned streets and rich cultural heritage.

The deputy mayor Ian Nielson confirmed the property that is bounded by Longmarket, Shortmarket and Rose streets was sold through an open online auction for R1.4 million and was zoned for residential use.The Bridges not Barriers campaign is planning to appeal a decision by the City Municipal Planning Tribunal.

The land in Rose Street once accommodated stables and parking horse carts (Image via Cape Times)

Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association (BCRA) chairperson Osman Shaboodien said that he felt the city should the ground for profit, disregarding the area’s housing issues. Adding that the community “need the land for continuation of our culture.”

Shaboodien is not the only resident to feel this way - many residents, businesses and community members had written objections against the development. Stating gentrification of an historic area, higher rates and the loss of culture as just some of the reasons why the development should not get the go-ahead. The tribunal had received and acknowledged 1, 017 objections and 636 from the campaign website.

Heritage Western Cape (HWC), an official provincial authority which acts in an advisory capacity, also opposes the development - stating that the development would cause ‘visual clutter’ and that the development is ‘out of character with the area.’

The Streetwire Artist Collective refused to sell their space to the developers. As a result, the proposed development will encompass the rest of the block towering over the Streetwire office (Image via Bridges not Barriers)

This however would no longer be a concern according to the Municipal Planning Tribunal who said that the re-design pushed the bulk of the building away from the Bo-Kaap side on Rose Street, and that this was enough to address the heritage concerns.

Furthermore they stated that while they accept that there will be a negative impact on the property values, higher density and increased traffic they found no grounds to rule against the property owner’s plans.

Shaboodien said the developers never reached out to the community, saying that the whole process was ‘rushed’ and that the community never had the time to react accordingly. Adding that his organisation will appeal the ruling, which after the final decision will rest with Cape Town Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille.

(As reported by GroundUp)

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