Makeover for Newtown hinges on compromise

Posted On Monday, 29 October 2007 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
Rate this item
(0 votes)

The question of whether development or heritage protection should receive priority has become a bone of contention in one of Johannesburg’s historical and cultural hubs, the Newtown Precinct.

Lael BethlehemOn Friday, a range of stakeholders met to start the process of finding a compromise between the opposing forces to ensure that Newtown retains its original character but also develops into an area of choice for major corporations and city authorities.

Since its regeneration began with the commissioning of the Nelson Mandela Bridge in 2003, Newtown seems to have thrived.

The Brickfields housing development, the proposed AngloGold Ashanti head office and the Sci-Bono science resource centre in the area are just some of the developments that have given prominence to its transformation and popularity from a mixed-use area of declining fortune.

Now, however, focus is shifting towards the preservation of Newtown’s architectural and social heritage. The South African Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra) successfully enforced some of these considerations on the AngloGold Ashanti project, compromising on demolition work while providing for restoration of the rest of the building.

Empowered by the National Heritage Resources Act, Sahra obtained a provisional heritage declaration order covering mainly the core “central place precinct”, the area around Bassline.

The order strengthened Sahra’s negotiations with developers, according to its cultural officer, Jennifer Kitto.

Its aim was to stop developments already planned by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and the Johannesburg Property Company , both owned by the city.

The most contentious was “Site 5”, next to the Workers Museum, which had been earmarked for a hotel. Objections that the hotel’s multistorey structure would not fit in with the surroundings forced the project to be abandoned.

Now both developers and the heritage community acknowledge each other’s importance.

At the meeting on Friday, draft guidelines were discussed on how to find a suitable compromise.

These guidelines, produced by Sahra, in co-operation with the JDA, will form the basis for a “holistic approach to the development of Newtown”.

JDA head Lael Bethlehem said: “We see the heritage side as a resource and also as something that helps to give Newtown its identity.”

Any development that takes account of heritage “will be constrained, but this should encourage creative thinking ”, she said .

Further workshops will be held soon and it is expected that guidelines will be prepared for each of the five areas of Newtown, taking account of the nature of the building site and its relationship with other sites.

 

Last modified on Friday, 16 May 2014 14:20

Most Popular

A future-proof data centre environment is key to digital transformation in Africa

Aug 03, 2021
Peter_Hodgkinson_WSP_Africa
According to a recent report, Africa needs 700 data centre facilities to meet growing…

NSBE statement on the passing of its founding president - CV Gamede

Aug 03, 2021
Cyril_Vuyani_Gamede
As the National Society of Black Engineers South Africa (“NSBE SA”), we mourn the…

SOKO launches at Rosebank Mall as part of Hyprop’s non-tangible strategy

Jul 29, 2021
SOKO_District_Town_Hall (1)
Hyprop announced that SOKO District will open its doors at Rosebank Mall on Friday 30…

Vaal Mall is grateful

Jul 27, 2021
Vaal Mall shopping centre
We are inspired by the powerful message of hope sent by all those who stood together to…

MPCs accommodative approach positive for home buyers

Jul 22, 2021
Dr Andrew Golding portrait photograph (1)
Given the vulnerability of South Africa’s economy in the wake of last week’s unrest, as…

Please publish modules in offcanvas position.