Stellenbosch Municipality is far advance in a project to identify, classify and digitally map its rich and diverse heritage resources. The municipality contracted with the Cape Winelands Professional Practices in Association (Pty) Ltd in 2015 to execute this heritage project – the first of its kind in Africa and one of only five worldwide.
The value of heritage resources has been highlighted repeatedly since 2009, when the Cape Winelands was placed on the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage Sites. Heritage resources are also major contributing factors to the local economy.
“The Stellenbosch Municipal area is dotted with a wide array of sites that are of great cultural, environmental and historical significance. Diverse peoples have long inhabited the area, each leaving their own mark on the landscape and on history – a history that must be preserved for future generations,” reads a press statement by the municipality. Due to the complex evolution of the local landscape over many centuries and the historical factors involved, a key to the heritage project’s methodology has been to devise ways of analysis and synthesis across ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ and at different scales of consideration – from entire landscapes to individual structures and sites.
The outcome of the project will be an advanced heritage inventory. According to the press statement “The inventory will be a living document that can be expanded when required and will inform our Conservation Management Plan (CMP) to ensure compliance with the National Heritage Resources Act.”
The project consists of five phases:
· Phase 1: Concepts and Method;
· Phase 2: Survey and Draft Heritage Inventory;
· Phase 3: Report on the Draft Heritage Inventory;
· Phase 4: Draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP);
· Phase 5: Training of municipal staff.
Phases one, two and three have been completed and the resulting reports have been approved by Heritage Western Cape. Phase 3 produced a consolidated, interactive online map of all heritage resources, with links to detailed heritage significance sheets for every landscape unit, townscape unit as well as individual heritage sites and structures. The reports were made public and were approved by Heritage Western Cape in May 2018.
The next phase of the project is the CMP “that maps out a process for the municipality to manage its heritage resources in a rational, systematic and practical way that will protect features of cultural significance, while ensuring that continued informed development of the cultural landscape can occur.”
The purpose of the CMP is to “assist municipal officials in their assessment of development applications, to ensure that their decisions recognise heritage significance and promote constructive action to maintain such significance.” The CMP will be presented for public comment later this year.
Executive Mayor Gesie van Deventer said “the heritage project shows that Stellenbosch is a municipality that truly cares about its heritage. We have revolutionised the way that local governments view heritage preservation and believe that our approach will make us an example of national and international best practice. Our methods demonstrate our firm commitment to heritage conservation and the continued informed development of our shared cultural landscape.”
All reports and related documentation is available from the Stellenbosch Heritage Foundation’s website: www.stellenboschheritage.co.za/cape-winelands-heritage-survey-2
Text & Image: Editorial Desk