Ruling protects heritage of De Waterkant

The City’s Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) recently decided unanimously against the rezoning  application brought by the Grey Hotel in the Loader Street Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ) in the MPT meeting held on 6th April 2021. The properties in question are on the corner of Napier and Jarvis Streets, in the De Waterkant area, and are in what is arguably one of the oldest heritage blocks in the City and, like the Bo-Kaap, still with domestic uses.

The application sought, in effect, to consolidate three erven and to apply for business rights (which would regularise unauthorised business use) across the properties to operate an hotel, three restaurants, two bars, shops, and three roof decks.

De Waterkant Civic Association (DWCA) was one of 52 objectors to the rezoning of the properties in the heritage-rich precinct. Neighbours and residents also objected as it was universally considered that the rezoning and the intensive uses proposed in the application are incompatible with the residential nature of the area; that they would have a negative impact on heritage resources and on the rights of surrounding property owners; and would adversely impact on the health and well-being of the area.

This is a victory for the community, and the MPT decision protects against excessive and inappropriate business encroachment in residential areas.

The MPT did, however, recognise the value of land intensification, contribution of socio-economic benefits, and mixed-use development, and therefore supported the business of the boutique hotel, the addition of two new hotel rooms, and the opportunity for specialist retail stores on Jarvis Street. But the MPT refused the application for the rezoning and related departures to prevent trafficable publicly accessible rooftops and separate multiple bars from operating. In their view, certain of the proposed uses could more appropriately operate with consent-use approval.

The De Waterkant is renowned for the mixed-use integration of activities of residential, speciality retailers, coffee shops, restaurants, boutique hotels, art galleries, heritage architecture and streetscapes and has a strong international and local tourism culture. The MPT recognised this value to the City and its decision protects and enhances this heritage tourism asset for the City.