Solar panels obstruct view of landmark

The solar panel structure that was placed next to the fountain in High Street, Durbanville.

A heritage group has accused the City of Cape Town of defiling a historic Durbanville fountain by plonking a solar panel array next to it and ringing the whole site with a palisade fence.

The landmark fountain dates back to the 18th century, when Durbanville was a public outspan known as Pampoenkraal.

Helen Neethling, of the Durbanville Heritage Society, said Durbanville had come into being because of the fountain, which had now been “obliterated’ by the solar panel array.

She questioned why the structure could not have been placed on City land next to the fountain.

Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said the solar panels would power a pump in the fountain to supply spring water to the

upgraded Pampoenkraal site. He said the solar panels and fountain had been fenced off to prevent vandalism and theft “The fact remains that this structure should be placed away from the fountain, palisade fence and all. There is more than enough space next to it, on City land,” Ms Neethling said. Mr Herron said the solar panels had to be near the pump and the fountain to avoid lengthy cabling, “minimise the overall visual impact”, and allow for only one fenced enclosure. The fence makes it hard to read the plaque on the fountain, but Mr Herron said the project team was looking for a solution to that problem. Ms Neethling said the City had failed to mention the solar panel array at any of the meetings held to discuss the Pampoenkraal upgrades.

“They only mentioned that the water of the fountain would be used as it runs past the Outspan,” she said. But Mr Herron said the plan to use the spring water for the Pampoenkraal upgrade had come up during the public participation process. “The project team motivated for the use of the spring water as this is directly related to the history and heritage of Durbanville and therefore considered a very important element in the re-conceptualised Pampoenkraal,” he said. Johan van der Merwe, former mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, previously told Northern News that contractors would lay a pipe along Church Street to pump water from the original Durbanville fountain to the site (“Pampoenkraal shakes its Cinderella complex,” Northern News, October 27 2016). “This water will be used in the interactive water feature for which the tanks and a pumping system have been installed,” he said at the time.

The City approved the renaming of Voortrekker Road between Wellington Road and Church Street to Pampoenkraal, following a Sub-council 7 proposal seeking to complement the R10 million Pampoenkraal Heritage Site project, being one of the biggest heritage developments in the city. Mr Herron said the main contractual work on the Pampoenkraal development should be finished by the end of the month.