Heritage ban "absurd"

The South African Heritage Resources Agency has placed a blanket of provisional protection on a substantial part of Green Point in Cape Town for a period of six months — without informing all of the affected property owners.

Ashley Lillie, a prominent heritage consultant says: "This is an ill considered and absurd move by the Heritage Agency. It means the rights of property owners to do even the simplest work on their property without permission from the heritage authority has been curtailed."

Even on a new building an owner cannot change a window or even re-do a bathroom without a permit from the local heritage agency.

"And what makes it even more worrying is that the Heritage Agency failed to notify all the owners of the properties affected by this ruling of their decision. This is not in accordance with their own legislation."

The National Heritage Resources Act no 25 of 1999 states that: "A heritage resources authority or a local authority may not provisionally protect any heritage resource unless it has notified the owner of the resource in writing of the proposed provisional protection."

In effect, the Heritage Agency has acted outside of the provisions of the law and imposed a ruling without adequate prior consultation or notification to the affected parties.

Lillie says the protection "blanket" is the area inaccurately referred to as "the Historical Green Point Burial Ground" which encompasses an extensive area of the west City and Green Point.

Landmark areas and buildings which fall within this enclosure include the V&A Mall, the Clock Tower Precinct, the BOE Building, the UCT Graduate School of Business, the Terraces, the entire residential neighbourhood of Green Point below the high-level Road and east of Portswood Road, Martin Melck House and most buildings along Bree Street from Hans Strydom Boulevard to Strand Street.

"In creating this expanded area of protection on the grounds of all of it needing investigation as the site of possible burial, the heritage agency is acting irresponsibly," says Lillie.

"Firstly to call the entire area which has now been 'protected' as one 'generally referred to as the Historical Green Point Burial Ground' is untrue and misleading. Secondly, the effect of the enactment reaches far beyond the apparent intention of the notice and is unreasonably invasive on the rights of all property owners in the extended area."

Lillie says that protection laws of this nature are usually enacted on single buildings and places that may be of historic and/or cultural significance and that require further investigation on the part of the heritage authorities before providing long-term formal protection of the place in terms of the appropriate provisions of the Act.

The use of this section of the Act to declare an entire precinct of the city as protected in this way is without precedent.

The Heritage Agency’s intention seems to be the protection of alleged burial grounds in the area notwithstanding the extensive historical evidence that exists delineating the location of the burial grounds in the area. Human remains are specifically protected by the National Heritage Resources Act under section36.

The Heritage Agency has expanded the location of known burial grounds to include areas of known historical residential and commercial enterprise where there is no evidence of their having been used as burial grounds.

Article from: http://iafrica.com