The Parow Station Precinct could become the first in South Africa to be exempted from protections under the National Heritage Resources Act (NHRA), according to Marian Nieuwoudt, the city’s mayco member for spatial planning and environment.
Heritage Western Cape has approved the City of Cape Town’s proposal to exempt the Parow Station Precinct from protections under the National Heritage Resources Act. Photo: Tariro Washinyira
This week, Heritage Western Cape (HWC) approved the City of Cape Town’s proposal to exempt the Parow Station Precinct from heritage protections. If implemented, this will allow owners to alter, improve and demolish buildings that are older than 60 years, and to consolidate properties without going through provincial heritage processes.
Any appeals against this decision must be sent to the office of the Western Cape Minister for Cultural Affairs and Sport by 4 June.
The precinct, adjacent to the Parow Station and bounded by Voortrekker Road, Tygervallei Street, Cloete and Picton Streets, needs urban regeneration and investment, according to the city.
In a statement on 13 May, Nieuwoudt said, “This precinct is the first in South Africa to be exempted from Sections 34 of the NHRA. Should this decision from HWC take effect, it will reduce unnecessary regulatory processes. It could also very well reduce the time it takes to approve developments and bring down the cost. All of this will improve the financial viability of development in the Parow Station Precinct.”
Mixed reactions in the area
On 6 June 2019, GroundUp reported that the city had proposed an exemption of the precinct from protections under the National Heritage Resources Act. At the time, the proposal was met with mixed reactions in the area, with some property owners saying building more affordable houses in Parow would be a bad idea.
“With the reduction of costs and approval times, investor confidence will be stimulated, which improves the likelihood of the development of affordable housing opportunities in well-located areas such as the Parow Station Precinct … It is ideally located to stimulate growth and to create more inclusive communities with access to improved services, job opportunities, and affordable housing and public transport,” said Nieuwoudt.
On Wednesday, 13 May, Gano Meintjies, who lives near Parow station, told GroundUp that he plans to object to the proposal. “We have lost a lot of our history already and it doesn’t make any sense to wipe what we still have. The future generation will learn from the little heritage preserved.”
Karen Hendricks from the housing movement Reclaim the City welcomed the prospect of the precinct being used for affordable and social housing.
“The housing backlog in South Africa is huge. Poor and working class people cannot wait and live inside the housing database. Local and national government have a constitutional obligation to build affordable housing to reverse the legacy of spatial apartheid.”