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Stalemate blocks plan to demolish Jo'burg landmarks

Posted On Thursday, 05 April 2007 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Construction of the R2,5bn Gauteng government precinct and its controversial central square has been delayed pending the outcome of an appeal by the province against a decision to allow the demolition of only five of the 10 disputed buildings in Johannesburg's inner city.

Paul MashatileThe precinct, which was proposed two years ago and was intended to help the province reduce its high rental costs, has been riddled with conflict over designs by architect Fanuel Motsepe and delayed by appeals and counter appeals between concerned citizens and the province. This has raised concerns in the legislature that inflation and the cost of cement alone could see the precinct costs rise to R3bn.

Finance MEC Paul Mashatile, however, has denied there was potential for inflation in the projected costs. The precinct is intended to bring together government departments that are spread out over 12 of the 22 buildings in the vicinity of Beyers Naude Square.

The cost to the province of renting these buildings is R250m a year and rising, according to a reply in the legislature by Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa last year.

The City of Johannesburg entered the fray last year, raising concerns with the province over transport disruptions and the value of the buildings proposed for demolition, which are estimated at R500m.

In September, the heritage appeals committee overturned a ruling by the South African Heritage Resources Agency to demolish all 10 buildings to make way for the Gauteng provincial square, saying that only five of the buildings could be demolished.

The committee suggested that a museum of architecture and urban history be incorporated into the development plan for the square and rejected argument by architect Motsepe that his design was aimed at counteracting the colonial and apartheid heritage that the buildings represented.

Herbert Prins, one of the architects who has opposed the development and the underpass in Market Street, said the decision not to knock down five of the buildings would mean that the square would not be able to expand to the south, as Motsepe intended.

The buildings to be demolished, on Commissioner Street, are the RSA building, Clegg House, SARB House, the People's Bank building and Thusanong building.

Buildings to be retained are the Rand Water Board, Volkskas, Custom House, the New Library Hotel and the First National Bank building.

The provincial government had planned to demolish two blocks of buildings between Market Street and Commissioner Street to expand the square and create an enlarged space in the centre of the CBD.

 

Last modified on Friday, 16 May 2014 18:06

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