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Heritage protection in Bo-Kaap serves as ammunition against giants of gentrification

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As the St Monica’s old age home in Bo-Kaap has gone up for auction, the chairperson of the Bokaap Civic and Ratepayers Association has indicated that he suspects the reason for the auction is due to the developer who acquired that property pulling out as a result of their failure to have the home declared as “a non-heritage site” rather than mainly being due to reports of “tough economic times”.

Reports by IOL indicate that according to the developer, the decision to release the property was reached under, and due to, thorny and troublesome economic conditions. The developer acknowledged, however, that the change in status of the area had in fact ultimately impacted the decision to auction.

“The development has a lot of potential. Our main issue is that from a financial perspective our company is under enormous pressure.” – Julian Reynolds (the developer) as quoted in an article by IOL

Chairperson of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association, Osman Shaboodien called the claim by the developer “a big lie”

“The ‘tough economic times’ is a groot lieg (big lie) – I think it has got to do with a question of not getting St Monica’s home declared a non-heritage site,” said Shaboodien.

Shaboodien explained that while the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association “said the home is heritage and the developers argued it’s not” the developers wanted to “half demolish it to bring in more types of development” despite the community not feeling good about it.

Meanwhile, speaking to VOC on a halted plan to develop a high-rise building on the site of a 60-year-old Bo-Kaap house, Shaboodien explained that much of the contention stemmed from the proposed plan’s proximity to the historic Auwal Masjid.

The plan to develop the high-rise building was reportedly halted after the developer lost an appeal against residents at Heritage Western Cape (HWC) earlier in February this year.

Reports by IOL indicate that the HWC appeals committee dismissed the appeal by the developer, Any Side Investments, for the proposed development of 150 Buitengracht Street.

“The property is situated next to the Auwal mosque, at the back… that’s where the contention is. They wanted to build a ten-storey building there,” said Shaboodien.

“These buildings are not built for us – they’re built on a gentrification-type model. If any of these flats [in the Buitengracht development] are sold they will go for R5 million plus, so they’re definitely not made for the area they’re built in and will definitely impact on the social fabric in the area.”

Shaboodien says heritage protection in Bo-Kaap has given the community “ammunition to fight back” against gentrification and unwelcome plans.

VOC


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