Cape Town Mayor, Dan Plato, says the city recognises the need for the Bo-Kaap to be declared a heritage site.

He was speaking during public hearings on Heritage Protection Overlay Zones at the Civic Centre.

The City of Cape Town is conducting public hearings into a proposal to declare it a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone.

The Bo-Kaap in the heart of Cape Town is a step closer to enjoying greater protection as a heritage site.

Bo-Kaap is steeped in history, including being the birthplace of Islam in South Africa.

Bo-Kaap residents have recently protested strongly against the development of parts of the area for commercial purposes.

The community is battling to keep its heritage protected from urban developers.

Nestled on the slopes of Signal Hill, Bo-Kaap is unmistakable. It’s one of the oldest formalised living areas in the country and has a long, rich history.

The area includes the oldest mosque dating back to 1794… and the Tana Baru, the oldest known Muslim cemetery in South Africa.

Now, the city wants to increase the area that will enjoy greater heritage protection under the Heritage Protection Overlay Zone.

Cape Town Mayco Member for Spatial Planning and Environment,
Marian Niewoudt says “It’s a heritage mechanism within the planning bylaw whereby you introduce more stringent measurements and guidelines to ensure that your built forms and your interface with the surroundings is kept to the similar ambiance and aesthetics that are already there.”

The proposal has been welcomed by some.

Bo-Kaap Civic & Ratepayers Association, Jacky Poking says “We’re very happy that it’s back on the table. It’s being discussed that we are having these hearings. We support it in principal, we support the intent of the document, we know there are issues with it but we support the general intent of having an overlay protecting Bo-Kaap.”

While others are more sceptical, saying they do not support the process of the HPOZ proposal.

Bo-Kaap Youth Movement’s Mujahid Hartley, argues that “The HPOZ, including grading of resources, the identification of boundaries, management guidelines and management implications must be work shopped with the community, our community needs to be better informed before making decisions regarding the HPOZ. We support the system of management and believe that HPOZ is the correct mechanism at local level, however, we believe it should be tailor made for Bo-Kaap.”

Residents continue to fight the sale and private development of property in the historic area.

In December, Mthethwa, said a process is under way to have the Bo-Kaap declared a National Heritage Site.

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