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Heritage inventory for the Franschhoek Valley

Proposed Heritage Areas in the Franschhoek Valley

Large parts of the Franschhoek Valley could be declared Grade I and II Heritage Areas.

In terms of the National Heritage Resources Act 1999 (NHRA), a heritage inventory for Stellenbosch Municipality is long overdue. The municipality has now commissioned Cape Winelands Professional Practices Association (CWPP) – a team of heritage experts led by Fabio Todeschini and Liana Jansen – to compile this. Heritage resources – which includes Heritage Areas – are graded as Grade I, II and III for their national, provincial or local significance and placed on a Heritage Register.

In terms of Heritage Western Cape (HWC) guidelines, Grade I Heritage Resources “are so exceptional because they are of outstanding significance to South Africa.”. Grade II “must have special qualities which make them significant within the context of a province or region.” Grade III applies to Heritage Resources with “sufficient intrinsic significance to be regarded as local heritage resources.”

A heritage area is managed by the municipality in accordance with “… specific development guidelines …. to ensure that the heritage significance of the Heritage Area is conserved.”

In November 2016 CWPP presented a Preliminary Draft Inventory of Large Scale Landscape Areas in the municipality (Phase 2a). It is available at www.stellenboschheritage.co.za. It proposes that in the Franschhoek Valley the maroon coloured area (see plan) should be a Grade I Heritage Area and the orange coloured area should be Grade II.

As the official Conservation Body for the Franschhoek Valley the Franschhoek Trust & Ratepayers Association (the Trust) was asked to comment on this draft. It suggested that the black lined area was of equal heritage significance to the proposed Grade I Heritage Area and should also be considered for Grade I status. In doing so it emphasised the heritage significance of La Cotte Farm and the landscape in which it was set. The Trust also proposed that the Municipal Spatial Development Framework 2013 be amended because it provided for Franschhoek’s urban edge to be extended to include a significant part of the black lined area – 59 ha – to be designated as a “New Development Area” to promote “mixed use, mixed income development including social and gap housing” as this might be incompatible with its status as a Grade I or Grade II Heritage Area.

CWPP have submitted the Phase 2a Heritage Inventory to SAHRA and HWC for approval and will now draft Management Plans to be discussed with them and the municipality before the inclusion of the Heritage Areas in the Heritage Register becomes official. The municipality must then pass by-laws for their protection approved by SAHRA, HWC and Province within 6 months.

In acknowledging the Trust’s comments Todeschini said, “Our Phase 2a work focussed on the broad brush-stroke identification of significant heritage resources in the Wilderness and Rural Domains. Phase 2b, starting in the New Year, will span the Urban Domain” and will include Grade III Heritage Resources in Franschhoek. It must be completed by July 2017. CWPP want local participation at workshops “drawing our attention to specific sites and areas that have heritage significance”.

The Trust welcomes development that respects the heritage of Franschhoek and the Franschhoek Valley as an essential economic driver. The Heritage Inventory will be a vital tool to help protect Franschhoek and the Franschhoek Valley from further inappropriate development. If you would like to be involved in this or have anything to contribute, please contact me.

Barry Phillips | 083 441 8280 | barry@afrihost.co.za