Heritage status for Green Point Common?

The nomination of the Green Point Common as a provincial heritage site could be one step closer as the nomination is released for public comment.

In what could be a significant step to protecting the heritage of the Green Point Common, Heritage Western Cape (HWC) has released the nomination of the park as a heritage site for public comment.

The document was sent to heritage bodies at the beginning of July and there is a 60-day period for comment.

The Green Point Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (GPRRA) are calling on the public for support. The GPRRA said this was an important step to protecting the area from future developments and maintaining the public open space for future generations.

The nomination has received support from several ratepayers’ associations as well as the District Six Museum. The matter was also recently discussed at the GPRRA’s annual general meeting.

Dr Antonia Malan, who drew up the nomination on behalf of the GPRRA, said the Green Point Common was a unique urban cultural landscape. “It is open space in a spectacular natural setting, with a long history of use for sports and recreation and public events. It is also under pressure from urbanisation and privatisation of public assets. We regard it as a significant part of our collective heritage, and that its special qualities should be celebrated, preserved and protected from irreversible and inappropriate impacts. The National Heritage Resources Act (25 of 1999) allows us to declare the Common as a Grade II (provincial) heritage resource and to implement a Conservation Management Plan to ensure its survival for future generations.”

Ms Malan said all interested and affected parties may make submissions regarding the proposed declaration.

“Support for the nomination is welcome in general, but in particular comment is needed regarding the proposed boundary of the heritage resource.”

Ms Malan added that the nomination would go back to Heritage Western Cape at the end of the 60-day comment period for further consideration and discussion with the property owner. “It is not possible to predict how long actual declaration will take,” she said.

Jenny McQueen, chairperson of the GPRRA, said the preservation of public spaces was extremely important.

“With developments going up all over the City and surrounds, there is very little green open space or place for public recreation and sport so it is becoming more and more important,

“We need all residents of Cape Town (not only Green Point, Sea Point and City Bowl) to endorse the nomination by the GPRRA for the Green Point Common to become a National Heritage Site. This will ensure that this invaluable public open space is protected, preserved and conserved in perpetuity for all the people of Cape Town, for all South Africans and for future generations.”

She said that the Green Point Common was unique. “The Eco park attracts over 900 000 visitors a year (mainly families from all areas of Cape Town) and needs to be preserved for future generations of all the people of Cape Town.”

In the nomination, Bonita Bennett, director of the District Six Museum, lent her support to the nomination by the GPRRA. In a letter of support, she said the research in the nomination had been thorough and sound. “It makes a strong and compelling case for the declaration of the Common, the neglect of which we believe would be to the detriment of the city as a whole. Not only is this a significant part of Green Point’s history which is relevant to its current residents, but also represents a significant chunk of Cape Town history.”

She added that the Common was relevant to both present and future communities.

Stuart Diamond, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, said this proposal had been supported by council in April 2016.

“Subsequently, the HWC Inventories, Grading and Interpretation Committee has made a recommendation that the nomination of a far wider area, including the new Cape Town Stadium, be considered as a Provincial Heritage Site. Unfortunately this is not a decision that the City as the landowner can support, because the restrictions on use of the stadium and other areas would place an unwarranted financial burden on the residents of Cape Town.

“The City wholeheartedly supports the recognition of the Green Point Park and surrounding open public spaces as a heritage area, but the proposal that the new stadium and other currently leased areas be restricted from current or future use cannot be supported, nor does the value of these areas equate to the importance of the Green Point Park. On July 5 HWC informed the City of the 60-day public participation process. The City, as the asset owner, will be provided an opportunity to reply to the inputs from the public once the public participation process has been concluded,” said Mr Diamond.

Mr Diamond added that The Green Point Urban Park was one of the city’s most inclusive open spaces as it reflected diversity and provided a beautiful recreational area for residents from all over Cape Town to come together and enjoy.

Ms McQueen stressed: “We just need to ensure that we get as much support for our preferred option C and not just the smaller area that the City Council favours. The City Council also has 60 days to lobby HWC for their preferred choice so it is imperative that we get as much support of Option C as possible”.

The GPRRA encouraged members of the public to send comments to the GPRRA which prepared the nomination by emailing info@gprra.co.za or to their local conservation body for onward submission to Heritage Western Cape by the end of August.