Now you see it, now you don’t – the fate of the South African Astronomical Observatory

30 October 2020 | by Leslie London | Cape Town, South Africa

The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) recently celebrated its 200th birthday. As a National Heritage site, and in line to be declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, you would think its concerns about the River Club development, proposed to take place within some metres of the SAAO site would have some weight in decision-making on the development. Not so for the Municipal Authorities and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, who seem to think that putting up a raft of densely located buildings between 20m and 46m in height on the adjacent erf is just fine.  In the words of the Municipal Planning Tribunal, “the elevated height in Precinct 2 enables a sensitive bulk distribution where it is deemed most appropriate.”


Let’s examine exactly what it means for the SAAO.