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Culture shock

Posted On Monday, 02 February 2004 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Six heritage buildings on Gauteng government's hit list

Thabo KgomommuMore than half the buildings in downtown Joburg that the Gauteng government wants to demolish have important cultural significance.

The proposed demolition of the 10 buildings - to make way for a new government precinct - has resulted in a public outcry.

Two other buildings are of "limited cultural significance", while the remaining two are of no significance.

But the provincial government will not be allowed to flatten the buildings without a permit from the South African Heritage Resources Agency.

The provincial office of the agency will make a decision on the future of the buildings only after February 4 - the deadline for the public to comment on whether they think the buildings should be saved or not.

Thabo Kgomommu, manager of the agency's provincial office, said it had received about 40 comments from the public in the last two weeks, only one of them supporting the demolition.

Those against the proposed precinct said the buildings were too beautiful to be destroyed.

"They compare it with cities in Europe where people go to admire such buildings, so they feel that the longer they are kept the more people will come to look at the buildings," he said.

A 120-page heritage impact assessment has been drawn up by heritage consultants Johann and Catharina Bruwer on behalf of the Gauteng government.

Members of the agency will consider this report before making their decision.

"We will have to reach a consensus about whether or not these buildings will be demolished and after that we will communicate our decision to the public and the developers."

According to the Bruwers' report nine of the 10 buildings to be demolished are in "good" condition.

The 10th building - New Library Hotel on Commissioner Street - has been neglected, but is still protected under a rule of the agency which stipulates that buildings in South Africa older than 60 years may not be altered without the agency's approval.

Four of the other targeted buildings are also protected under the same rule.

Johann Bruwer said the cultural value of the buildings would need to be weighed up against the project's socioeconomic benefits.

"I'm not making recommendations, I'm only communicating my findings but I cannot say that there are six buildings that are of cultural significance and then also say they may be demolished," he said.

Bruwer also found that several other buildings would be "indirectly impacted" by the proposed precinct, among them the Joburg Public Library, the City Hall and the Chief Albert Luthuli Building


Last modified on Saturday, 17 May 2014 16:26

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