The historic western suburbs of Johannesburg have something to celebrate this Heritage Month. Under the auspices of the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation a committee has been established to guide residents and residents’ associations to navigate the ins and outs of heritage legislation.
The Joint Plans Committee West meets on a monthly basis to discuss building and development applications and to monitor heritage sites of concern. Auckland Park, Melville, Richmond, Westdene, Pageview, Mayfair, Fordsburg, Linden, Sophiatown, Greenside, Brixton, Emmarentia, Rossmore and Risidale are some of the suburbs in which the committee is active.
According to committee chairperson, Wynand Dreyer “The committee aims to improve the monitoring and protecting of heritage resources in these neighbourhoods and to assist residents and professionals in complying with planning requirements of the City, the National Heritage Resources Act and the National Building Regulations”. The objectives of the committee include the promotion of sustainable developments that benefit the wider community while also respecting existing neighbourhood structures and character and the City’s policies for the inner-city suburbs.
There are two heritage ‘triggers’ that owners of a property need to be aware of. The first, the so-called 60-year clause, is relatively well-known among the public. In terms of the National Heritage Resources Act, any owner wishing to alter, extend or demolish a structure older than 60 years needs a permit from the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority - Gauteng (PHRAG). The implication is that the owner would need to comply with this provision before he or she can apply for building plan approvals or other similar authorisations from the City of Johannesburg.
Dreyer recommends that owners consult their building plans (plans can be viewed at the Development Planning Department of the City of Johannesburg in the Metro Centre in Braamfontein), to establish the age of the building. They can also contact the committee or a heritage professional for advice. He says that most suburbs that the Committee are concerned with are older than 60 years. He also emphasises that the 60-year clause applies to alterations to both interiors and exteriors. It also applies even if alterations to the original structure had been made at some previous point.
“Rather than risk falling foul of the authorities, we suggest you contact us to clarify the requirements”, he stresses.
The second ‘trigger’ that many people are not aware of deals with developments or any other activity which will change the character of a site that is greater than 5,000m2 or involves three or more existing erven (or subdivisions thereof) or involves three or more erven (or divisions thereof) which have been consolidated within the past five years. In these instances, the developer needs to first notify the PHRAG about the development. The PHRAG will then inform the owner whether a heritage impact assessment will be required, and indicate the nature of the information to be contained in the study.
Dreyer says that it is in the interest of property owners to consult with the committee, when contemplating work, as it will speed up the application process. In terms of legislation, local conservation bodies or Residents’ Associations have to be consulted when heritage resources are affected. The Committee is a mechanism through which such consultation can take place in a fair and transparent manner.
He says that with Resident’s Associations, the committee also monitors suburbs for illegal work. “We do not hesitate to refer work to the authorities when we believe that owners are contravening the Act planning regulations or title deeds”.
Applications or enquiries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Should anyone be interested and believe they have skills which would benefit the JPC West, please contact Wynand Dreyer on the above e-mail.
Contact details for Joint Plans Committee West (JPCW): 010 900 4002 | email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org