Arcadia, and in particular the area above Stanza Bopape Street, is the oldest area in Pretoria. With the declaration of the Union Buildings as a national heritage site in 2013, it is critical to ensure that the surrounding heritage precinct is protected from unplanned and unsympathetic development and is respectfully preserved for future generations to enjoy. The Union Buildings precinct stretches from Stanza Bopape Street north to Meintjieskop and East from the Union Buildings along Government Avenue to the Bryntirion Estate. The area between, which is predominantly zoned residential, is a critical area that requires special attention in terms of its discernible and definable area and its evident heritage legacy. As an association, ARRA applied in 2013 for ‘protected area’ status for the area between Union Buildings and the Bryntrion Estate to incorporate Meintjieskop, and ARRA will continue to engage with the various heritage authorities to ultimately achieve this goal. The Tshwane Regional Spatial Development Framework (RSDF) for future planning and rezoning and consent-use applications recognises this aspect when it states “That in terms of the cultural heritage of the city, certain areas are identified as unique areas, including the Union Buildings Precinct, Church Square, Marabastad, Bryntirion/Lisdogan Park, Eastwood…”. This implies that there is a mandate to protect and preserve this special area of Arcadia in Pretoria.
In 2017 unfortunately, as a community the many flagrant breaches and challenges to preserving this important heritage in our area, continued. The situation with the PRAH-G has in fact worsened in 2017, as their resources have been drastically cut, virtually causing the body not able to function. Reports on damage being doen to heritage is just ignored and the damage continues. If this lack of action is allowed to continue there is a serious threat to the tourist interest in the area. No answers as yet have been given to ARRA as to why the demolition of the unique and irreplaceable glass houses on the Union Buildings precinct was allowed to happen. The ‘restoration’ of the Vredehuis, also on the Union Buildings precinct, was stopped by the SAHRA after ARRA contacted SAHRA regarding the damage that was being done to the historic building (in terms of removal of original roof tiles and adjustment of the profile of the roof). Unfortunately, often the PRAH-G and SAHRA do not act speedily enough and end up hand-wringing with claims of shortage of resources and money. We need to be able to influence these bodies so that these dreadful detrimental decisions that affect our heritage are not taken without proper consultations with the heritage experts that exist amongst ARRA members and the members of OPERRA.
ARRA generally welcomes and encourages Embassies in Arcadia, as Arcadia has always been the home of many Embassies. At this stage, we have good working relationships with most Embassies and we try to engage positively with them to resolve certain problems experienced by the residents. The situation at the bottom of Balmoral Street, where the Ugandan and the Libyan Embassies are opposite each other results in major issues with visitors illegally parking on both sides of the road. This is a dangerous situation and ARRA has written to both Embassies in an effort to resolve this problem. Unfortunately the matter has remained unresolved until now.
The Ivory Coast Embassy in Government Avenue is planning to expand, and they have gone about matters in the correct way, by appointing an ethical heritage consultant to advise them.