Architecture & Heritage update

Architecture and Heritage Update: June 2021 

The Architecture and Heritage team have so far this year received 27 requests for comment on residential heritage applications in Observatory, as well as several informal consultations and a number of invitations to comment on planning and land use applications. If you are considering making changes to your property and are unsure of what process to follow, please don’t hesitate to email us at [email protected] and we are happy to help where we can!

It can be a bit of an obscure minefield to navigate heritage issues in residential areas. The important thing to know is that in most properties in Observatory, you will need a permit from Heritage Western Cape to do any alterations, renovations or demolitions. This is because the law protects all properties that are older than 60 years, and the permitting process is designed to ensure that your planned changes do not unnecessarily negatively effect the heritage significance of your property.

In the coming weeks we will clarify some frequently asked questions about heritage processes, terminology, how to get a permit, what the function is of the Heritage Protection Overlay Zone, how to ensure that you are compliant with the law and city policy, and what the role is of the OCA and others in this process. In the meantime, you can find information from Heritage Western Cape about application processes here. The City of Cape Town also has some useful information and guidance brochures here.

Some updates on recent cases where there has been high public interest (other than the River Club, which will be on the agenda as a heritage hotspot for some time still!)

22 Collingwood Road 

In a previous newsletter we noted that an application had been tabled for the demolition of 22 Collingwood Road, and the replacement of the existing mid-century factory building with a new apartment block. This application has now been approved by both Heritage Western Cape and the Municipal Planning Tribunal. You can see some images of the planned development via Castle Properties’ website.

368A Main Road (Dove’s Funeral Parlour) 

Change is also afoot for the Art Deco building currently occupied by Dove’s Funeral Parlour on Main Road. The OCA commented last year on an early proposal for this site, and opposed it as too destructive of the special heritage qualities of the original building. The design was revised and resubmitted to Heritage Western Cape, who approved the new proposal by Pentz and Berman architects & urban designers.

10 Dixton Road (Coornhoop)  

The owners of 10 Dixton Road in Lower Obs, the Shofar Church, have submitted a planning application to enable the construction of a new auditorium for church services as well as the conversion of one of the historic barn buildings into a restaurant. The OCA was contacted by several concerned neighbours about the proposal, and extensive comments and objections have been submitted for consideration by the Municipal Planning Tribunal. We will keep residents updated about this application.

Unpermitted and illegal building work 

There has been a spate this year of property owners embarking on illegal demolition and construction work without the necessary permits from Heritage Western Cape and/or the City of Cape Town. In one case, an entire Victorian house in an intact historic streetscape on Scott Road was demolished with no permit in place; while two other recent cases have been brought to our attention where renovations have been undertaken with no building or heritage permission. This is illegal in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act, and can result in a hefty fine or having charges laid against you for breaking the law.  If you have concerns or think that illegal work is taking place anywhere in Obs, please email us at [email protected] so we can follow up.