Ward & Electoral Issues

Sub-Committee Chair: Linda Tyrrell – 2022

Arcadia, and the area above Stanza Bopape Street, is the oldest precinct 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 and/or diplomatic, is a critical area that requires special attention in terms of its discernible and definable area and its evident heritage legacy.

On the heritage front, COVID-19 has not been a positive experience. The PHRA-G3 has been dormant the
entire time and no response was forthcoming regarding the number of ‘Stop Orders’ that were not enforced in our area. This year so far no inspectors have been appointed, so no ‘stop orders’ can be issued or properties inspected for contraventions. This means that the heritage of the area (most of which is in excess of 100 years in existence) is really exposed to destruction and abuse by irresponsible developers and owners.

A constructive meeting was hosted via Zoom by the PRHA-G to address matters of concern with various
stakeholders. This happened on 15 March 2022. Various issues were discussed regarding the responsibility of the CoT towards heritage protection and preservation. A directive is needed from the top on how to deal with heritage matters at the CoT, and workshops need to be arranged with city officials. The SPLUMA4 overlooked heritage issues in the act and this needs to be revised at the first opportunity. James Boale from the Tshwane Heritage desk will arrange a meeting with the Tshwane building control team to discuss a better understanding of the heritage issues and to ensure better cooperation between the two offices. Once again, it was confirmed that the Heritage Act overrides any decision taken by the City council regarding heritage protection, and we must constantly remind CoT officials of this. The extremely high costs involved in declaring an area a ‘heritage area’ is the reason why most Residents’ Associations cannot go down that route. This needs further discussion with the PHRA-G.

The Tshwane Metro Police also need to be properly informed about their role in the protection of heritage and enforcement of by-laws. In 2021, unfortunately as a community, the many flagrant breaches and challenges to preserving this important heritage in our area continued. This also pertains to the support we get from the Heritage Section of the CoT. ‘Stop Orders’ issued by PHRA-G to suspend/terminate work on Heritage properties without permits are ignored by the owners and no further enforcement action was taken by the authorities. Reports of damage to heritage properties and sites is ignored and the damage continues unabated. If this lack of action continues, then there is a serious threat to the loss of irreplaceable heritage assets, as well as the tourism interests in the area.

The Union Buildings grounds have also been closed at night and over weekends. This is due to a serious
security threat and it appears there is no relief very soon. This is indeed a blow to the residents, who regularly walked and relaxed there with family and friends. It also impacts on the people dwelling in the many high-rise flats in the area, who could at least get out into a green area that is safe. The tourism industry will also be affected negatively, especially as the Madiba statue is also restricted to access during closure times.

No feedback has been given to ARRA as to why the demolition of the unique and irreplaceable Glass Houses on the Union Buildings precinct was allowed to take place. The ‘restoration’ of the Vredehuis, also on the Union Buildings precinct, was stopped by the SAHRA5 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 PHRA-G and SAHRA do not act speedily enough and end-up handwringing with excuses 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 wider members of OPERRA.