Battle to save historic warehouse

Cartoon: Die Burger, 22 November, 2013

Cape Times: Wednesday 20th November 2013

Woman wins battle to save historic warehouse

She is 82, has had several setbacks with her health, but Marie-Lou Roux of Vredehoek is one of the city’s toughest fighters, not letting her age or ill health stop her battle to save the integrity of the 18th century Martin Melck warehouse next to the Lutheran Church on Strand Street.

Yesterday Roux, of the Habitat Council, was told by the city council that the planning and general appeals committee had dismissed the developers’ appeal, effectively putting paid to development plans that involved the old warehouse built in 1764.

This ended the controversy that has dragged on for years, which involved the city council, the provincial government, heritage agencies and court action.

‘I am over the moon, I’m elated,’ Roux said yesterday. ‘The zoning regulations section 108 proclaimed this an urban conservation area, which needed city consent for development. The spatial planning environment and land use management committee unanimously turned it down in 2011, but (MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning) Anton Bredell gave them permission to have a late appeal under the Municipal Systems Act. I was so scared with all this ‘roll out the red carpet for developers’ scenario in the city that it would go wrong.’

The Lutheran Church complex contains the church, parson’s house, sexton’s house and the warehouse. The proposed development, designed by architect Gawie Fagan, includes parking and a fourstorey office block.

The development proposal appeared to split architects and heritage institutions, some of whom supported and others opposed the development. Heritage Western Cape gave it a grade three status, but the SA Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) recommended the complex be given a higher grade one status.

Later, after a site visit, Sahra reversed the grading.

Roux took issue with the statement by the developers’ consultant that only 15 percent of the original fabric remained. She scoured the archives until she found a 1767 surveyor’s map and plan.

‘The first floor outer walls are still original, and much more than 15 percent of the ground floor,’ she said.

Developer Casey Augoustides said yesterday he was very upset with the outcome.

‘It’s been such a terribly flawed process from start to finish. This is not the end for sure… We were encouraged to proceed at great cost by city officials only to be rejected by these officials later – it makes no sense.’

 

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