Heritage buildings in focus

Parow: The Station Road corridor in the Parow CDD area that used to be a triving business hub has now become a drug den and a hot spot for robbery. Picture : Ian Landsberg/ANA

The City of Cape Town wants to scrap heritage protection around the Parow precinct to make it easier for buildings there to be demolished or renovated.

All buildings older than 60 years of age have heritage-protection under the National Heritage Resources Act (NHRA), but the City’s proposal seeks to exempt owners of those buildings in the Parow station precinct from having to go through Heritage Western Cape, which they currently have to do to get a building plan passed by the City.
The public has until Thursday June 27 to comment or object to the proposal, which the City hopes will breathe new life to an area plagued by crime and grime.
The station precinct is adjacent to the Parow station and bounded by Voortrekker Road, Tygervallei Street, Cloete and Picton streets.
The issue was discussed at last week’s Sub-council 4 meeting where senior spatial planner for the City, Lance Boyd, presented a report.
Marian Nieuwoudt, the City’s mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment said in a statement to Northern News that a “high proportion” of buildings in the Parow station precinct were older than 60 years, but “did not merit heritage conservation”. 
 A heritage exemption for the area would cut red tape and costs and make it easier for owners to invest in their properties, and doing that, she said, would likely give the construction industry a boost, create jobs and stimulate the development of affordable housing in well-located areas.

Parow Business and Community Forum chairwoman Jameelah Moodley said she had shown mayor Dan Plato seven dilapidated buildings in the precinct during a walk-about there last year.
“The City is aware of these buildings. Water leaks from these properties run onto the traders’ bays which causes a stink.”
“Many of these buildings are in a very bad state and don’t have proper ablution facilities. They are not up to scratch, and people urinate where they want to. 
All these owners want is their rent at the end of the month. The people who stay in these properties don’t complain so the owners don’t see a need to fix up these properties.”
The poor state of the buildings threatened businesses in the area, she said.
“If I go shopping, I would like to go into a clean and safe environment. It is not safe here. There are holes in the pavement where people can get hurt. I have been talking about these issues for years, but nothing gets done even though the City has the money to fix these things.”
The CEO of the Greater Tygerberg Partnership (GTP), Warren Hewitt, said they welcomed any plan that would boost business and clean up run-down properties in the Parow and Bellville transport nodes, both of which, he said, were threatened by crime.
“The process, should, however, be well-managed to avoid gentrification. There are pockets of land in the precinct that are ideal for affordable accommodation or commercial development. We want these areas to be rejuvenated.”

He added: “Drug and gang-related activities are keeping normal commuters away from these transport hubs, and that needs to change.”
● Send your comments or objections to city.growth@capetown.gov.za