Our Panel

Urban Conservation Advisory Panel

Our focus is on protecting historical buildings and the urban landscapes of our beautiful City.

Who we are

CIBRA is mandated to review and provide comment to Heritage Western Cape (HWC) for City Bowl properties in Wards 77 and 115. 

HWC is the authority for any building work and demolitions, either partial or total, for properties that are older than 60 years or that have other heritage value.    

All conservation applications are referred to our Urban Conservation Advisory Panel, which comprises of unpaid professionals. This volunteer panel meets once a month.

Do you want the panel to review an issue?

Before submitting an application, please be aware of the following: 

  1. Your email must have a subject line that includes the words panel application, the street address and erf number of the property which is the subject of the application.

  2. The Urban Conservation Panel meets on the first Monday of the month (no meeting in January). Please ensure that your application, including all applicable documents, plans, drawings, photos etc reaches us by the Friday morning before the meeting.

  3. Late applications will be postponed to the following month as the panel needs enough time to prepare. Failing to complete the form as stipulated may delay our answering any query.

  4. A copy of every Comment Form will be forwarded to Heritage Western Cape (HWC) for their records. It can take up to 7 days for supported digital plans to be returned. Not – supported applications should receive the Comment Form within a working week after the meeting.

  5. The panel may occasionally wish to meet with the applicant for discussion of the project; in such cases the applicant will be notified and be invited to attend the next monthly meeting unless another date is feasible for both the panel and the applicant.

  6. No applications will be discussed telephonically – this process is one of consensus that necessarily involves all members of the panel.

  7. No demolition application will be considered without entire item #9 in the Submission Form being documented and forwarded to CIBRA.

  8. No plans for any building work either in progress or already completed will be commented on.

  9. No individual email is to please exceed 12MG. If necessary, please send large attachments in two or more emails. If you are using a time sensitive link such as WeTransfer, please note that our mailbox is not actively monitored.

Once Reviewed: Scenario 1

NOT SUPPORTED: CIBRA will send an e-mail to the applicants with the COMMENT FORM attached, explaining the reason for the objection.

Once Reviewed: Scenario 2

SUPPORTED: CIBRA will send an e-mail to the applicants with the COMMENT FORM and the digitally stamped plans attached. This application can be taken forward to Heritage Western Cape (HWC) for further assessment.

What is Urban Conservation?

As more than 60% of the residential area of the City Bowl falls within a Heritage Protection Zone, we should be conscious that some of the older parts of the greater Cape Town are rich in architectural, historic or aesthetic interest. Unfortunately, there are abundant examples where the fabric of these neighbourhoods has been seriously eroded.

Both individual houses or whole streets or groups of streets, together with their trees and hedges, may be deemed of sufficient interest to warrant special care. This is much more than just looking after a pile of bricks, stones and mortar, but rather considering the whole urban environment that surrounds us and what we pass on to future generations.

What is a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ)?

Concern for our architectural heritage is insufficient without lawful protection. These areas of special interest, formerly Urban Conservation Areas, have now been proclaimed Heritage Protection Zones and are subject to Urban Conservation regulations. 

Extract from the Municipal Planning By-Law, 2015

162 General provisions: Heritage Protection Overlay Zoning
Unless exempted, the following activities affecting a place or an area protected as a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone require the approval of the City:

  1. any alteration, including any action affecting the structure, appearance or physical properties of a heritage place, whether by way of structural or other works, by painting, plastering or other decoration or any other means;
  2. any development including any physical intervention, excavation, or action other than those caused by natural forces, which may in any way result in a change to the appearance or physical nature of a heritage place, or influence its stability and future well-being, including –
    1. construction, alteration, demolition, removal or change of use of a heritage place or a structure at a heritage place;
    2. carrying out any works on or over or under a heritage place;
    3. subdivision or consolidation of land comprising a heritage place, including the structures or airspace of a heritage place;
    4. any change to the natural or existing condition or topography of land; and
    5. any permanent removal or destruction of trees, or removal of vegetation or topsoil;
  3. addition of any new structure;
  4. partial demolition of a structure;
  5. alteration to or removal of any historical landscape or any landscape feature, including boundary hedges and mature plantings; or addition or removal of or alteration to hard landscape surfaces, street furniture or signage;
  6. any below-ground excavation.

Where are these HPOZ's?

Please see the Panel’s focus area in the HPOZ map above

  1. The Upper Table Valley area & Tamboerskloof: By far the largest, it includes most of Tamboerskloof, the Reservoirs, Leeuwenhof, the Belvedere/Montrose and Breda Streets areas and the lower half of Oranjezicht;
  2. The Upper Mill Street area: from Jutland to Vredehoek avenues;
  3. The CBD & two Lower Gardens areas: One along the spine of Buitenkant and Maynard streets, down to Roeland Street, and the other around Dunkley Square, bordered by Orange, St. John’s and Hope streets;
  4. The De Waterkant area;
  5. Upper Vredehoek, to protect the Art Deco and Arts & Crafts properties;
  6. Bo-Kaap/Schotsche Kloof, this one being the more advanced in the heritage survey process.

Are there other ways to protect architectural heritage?

A number of laws, at national, provincial and municipal levels, offer considerable protection.

Buildings can be protected by being declared:

  1. Grade 1 (a national heritage site);
  2. Grade 2 (a provincial heritage site – PHS); or
  3. Grade 3 (a municipal heritage site).

The Environmental Conservation Act, Title Deeds, subdivision conditions, certain sections of the Zoning Scheme, or simple consents also apply to how an existing property can be developed.

Unfortunately, the lack of enforcement has often meant that these regulations have not provided the necessary protection.  The impact of insensitive development is felt more keenly in these Heritage Zones.

How do HPOZ's work?

HPOZ’s give the City of Cape Town the legal authority to ensure that the special character of areas deemed worthy of protection are not drastically altered. This principle is applied to new building designs as well as renovations, extensions and demolition of old buildings. It also applies to uprooting mature trees and hedges.

Broad guidelines have been established to ensure that new structures are sensitive to their architectural environment. Buildings and their surroundings are products of their own time but the Act seeks to ensure that the visual feel and character is protected even with each successive layer of development. It also seeks to ensure that past mistakes are not repeated.

These additional regulations do not result in the loss of development rights. Rather they seek to positively guide and management development. If the project is clearly out of place, the regulations will attempt to entice the owner into negotiating acceptable modifications. Failing this, the project will be referred to the City’s Planning Tribunal for further examination and decision. There is no appeal to decisions made, contrary to those made in respect of other sections of the Zoning Scheme. These regulations also do not replace the Zoning Scheme or Title Deed Conditions.

Conservation guidelines serve to inform developers of the identified values in a given area and the appropriate forms of intervention. They also help authorities to be consistent in their rulings. The basic principles are:

  1. The protection of the cultural, architectural and historical significance of an area;
  2. Contemporary design which is compatible with the existing fabric and which clearly distinguishes old from new;
  3. Modernisation that is reversible if need be;
  4. Repair and restoration of damaged components rather than replacements with modern elements;
  5. The use of traditional materials and techniques wherever possible

What are the areas of concern?

  1. Environment:
    1. House-street relationship
    2. Road Fixtures used in traffic control (signage, medians etc)
    3. Vegetation: Maintaining established planting patters (avenues of trees)
    4. Services: Electricity lights should not clash with the area’s character, original fittings should be retained or matched
    5. Street furniture: kiosks, fountains, benches etc should be retained whenever possible
  2. Site:
    1. Topography: the land itself affects the way a building has been erected and is being perceived; the same building design will have markedly different impacts on a flat plot, on a slope – and whether seen from above or below – or surrounded by established trees or new, young vegetation;
    2. Density: pressure for additional accommodation should be controlled to limit its effects on the area’s character; setbacks and spacing: the distance of buildings from street boundaries and from each other is a key feature of an area’s character; Orientation on site: the predominant orientation style of buildings within an area or street should be maintained.
    3. Boundaries: the front boundary onto the street (hedge, walls, fences, facades and their heights; off-street parking and garage façade and doors) are all elements crucial to an area’s character.

The overall architecture of the building (the “building form”): the height, silhouette, mass, proportions, scale and rhythm of the building form should not be out of place with the area; original roof materials, pitch and shape should be respected. 

For older buildings:

  1. Stoeps and outdoor steps and their enclosures: these should not be modernised and transformed into, for example, pergolas.
  2. Boundary enclosures, gardens, including trees and hedges: Victorian cast iron railings should not be replaced with brickwork, or well-established hedges with Vibracrete.
  3. Outbuildings: garages, carports, off-street parking should remain in sympathy with the main building;
  4. Building treatment: materials, colour and details. Old wood windows frames should not be replaced with aluminium or plastic ones or leaded glass with plain modern glazing. Fitting burglar bars which are unobtrusive and appropriate to their respective openings. Gables, parapets, original stoep tiles, chimneys, bay or sash windows, original entrances, should all be retained, as should historic decorative cast iron elements. The original plaster mouldings and quoining should also be retained or restored where they constitute an integral part of the traditional decorative treatment.
  5. Modern Fixtures to old buildings: signs, air conditioning, television aerials, satellite dishes, solar heaters, skylights, awnings, fire escapes, pergolas and post-boxes are all potential pitfalls and can have a negative impact on an area’s character.

Who is affected?

  1. Owners of recent buildings in a HPOZ conservation area: renovations or additions may not conflict with the aims of urban conservation;
  2. Owners of building more than 60 years old: requirements for renovations and additions are considerably more restrictive. Until, the local authority gains competency in terms of the NHR Act, HWC is the management authority for any alterations to any structure older than 60 years deemed to have heritage significance.
  3. Municipalities: road work, public gardens, etc.
  4. Commercial and industrial enterprises (including shops).
  5. Developers: redevelopment of older buildings or sites, demolitions, additions, etc.
  6. Estate agents: Estate agents should alert prospective buyers of the existence of HPOZs where applicable, and the likelihood of additional planning processes.

Remember that the Zoning Scheme Regulations apply not only to the dwelling itself but also to:

    1. A garage separate from the main structure;
    2. The boundary wall and gates, especially on the street side;
    3. Mature trees;
    4. Established vegetation (especially significant hedges).

It is therefore clear that guidance should be sought from the Heritage Resources Section of The City of Cape Town’s Environmental Management Department in all cases. For larger projects, the services of an architect or designer must be retained: it will save you, at the very least, time, if not money and trouble. For smaller work, you can approach the HRS directly, or contact CIBRA for advice on design. (Note: CIBRA does not offer design services, only general guidelines).