Our application for Provincial Heritage Status is finally heard

21 JUL 2021 — 

In February 2020, the OCA, along with the Goringhiacona Khoi-Khoi Traditional Council, and the Two Rivers Urban Park Association (TRUPA) applied to have the Two Rivers Urban Park declared a provincial heritage site. This was step was prompted by the extraordinary heritage of the entire area, which includes the Liesbeek River, the Wetlands, the South African Astronomical Observatory (already a national heritage site), Oude Molen and the River Club, as a place of  significance historical and cultural importance, and the seeming unwillingness of our authorities to ensure the protection of critical heritage resources from imminent threats.

More than a year later, the matter is finally going to being heard before the Council of Heritage Western Cape (HWC) – tomorrow, July 22nd 2021. We hope HWC will stay consistent with their mission and with every previous policy statement they have issued which has recognised the TRUP as of provincial if not national heritage importance..

For example, the Impact Assessment Committee of Heritage Western Cape had noted in April 2017 that “the TRUP is of extremely high heritage significance. The Committee agrees that the overall site is of at least Grade II heritage significance if not higher… given the strategic importance and high significance of the site, it is a strong recommendation of the Committee that the Council of HWC gives consideration to the provisional protection of the TRUP area under S29 of the NHRA.”

As we know, HWC tried to protect the River Club land with a protection order after the developers went ahead with their development application before grading could be done. Even though the developers’ appeal against that protection order was finally dismissed by the Ministerial Appeal Tribunal in April 2020, the appeal helped to ensure that no grading was completed by HWC before the developers could get their development approved.

Nonetheless, we know that Heritage Western Cape, in its Final Comments on the River Club HIA in February 2020, noted the following: “HWC remains of the opinion that the River Club is an integral part of a highly significant cultural landscape, that is at the very least of Provincial significance, but more realistically and given South Africa’s history, is one of National significance. Indeed, the TRUP as a whole could be regarded as one of the single most historically significant sites in the Country.”

So, finally, HWC are going to consider our application tomorrow. We are supported by more than 60 Khoi, Civic and Environmental NGOs and by more than 56 000 supporters on this petition. We hope HWC will take the needed steps to grade the area and recognise that heritage must be protected. Strangely enough, the LLPT who have been served with all the documents related to the application and who will likely be speaking at the meeting tomorrow, have stated in Business Live on 6th July that “it is not true that the site has been nominated for provincial heritage status”.  Like the rest of the misinformation they put out about our campaign, the developers think that if they repeat misinformation often enough, it will miraculously be seen as true. But we know that when we present the facts about the River Club development, they are meticulously based on evidence.

If you are able to support our campaign to reverse these faulty and unlawful decisions approving the development, please consider donating to our fundraising site where we are raising funds to take the matter on review to the High Court.

Make the Liesbeek Matter!