Heritage Management

Comment On Heritage Related Projects

We are registered as an Interested and Affected Party and a Conservation Body at both the City of Cape Town and at Heritage Western Cape. In terms of the National Heritage Resources Act we form part of the Public Participation Process and are therefore notified about development applications and asked to comment on it.

When vacancies exist, we are invited to nominate a representative to serve on Council’s Ward Committees. Due to limited space on these committees, only a few Community Based Organisations can be accommodated, hence we are not represented at all the Wards.

We also have representation on Cape Town Heritage Trust.

City of Cape Town elects a Councillor to attend our committee meetings.

Standard Bank Adderley St

Applicable Legislation Western
Cape/Statutory Framework

This section briefly deals with the most important legislation in the field of heritage management. As this Foundation operates within the City of Cape Town area, most of the properties we comment on fall within the grading of local category Grade III (heritage resources on a local scale that are worthy of conservation).

National Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1999

The National Heritage Resources Act gives local communities the opportunity to get involved in the protection of their own heritage (see more information on the Act below).

Provincial Gazette

Extraordinary, No. 5937, 25 October 2002, PN. 336 (Establishment of Heritage Western Cape and regulations thereto).

Provincial Gazette

Extraordinary, No. 6061, 29 August 2003, PN. 298. (Permit application procedures and requirements).

Provincial Gazette

No. 7410, 26 June 2015, PN 201 (Regulations on the Process for Publication of Statements of General Policy and Conservation Management Plans).

Provincial Gazette

Extraordinary, No. 7497, 24 September 2015, PN. 324 & PN. 325 (Regulations on the Process for Publication of Statements of General Policy and Conservation Management Plans).

Provincial Gazette

Extraordinary, No. 7608, 21 April 2016, PN. 143 (Fees) Provincial Gazette Extraordinary, No. 7900, 16 March 2018, PN. 42 (Public consultation required for applications made in terms of the NHRA).

City Of Cape Town Regulations & Guidelines:

Municipal Frameworks,

Guidelines and Regulations; 

Existing heritage studies,

Heritage Protection Overlay Zones.

Integrated Metropolitan Environmental
Policy (IMEP): Cultural Heritage
Strategy, 2005

The IMEP Cultural Heritage Strategy contains a series of policies of principle and management related policies which guide and commit the City in the conservation and enhancement of historic sites and their appropriate use. The underpinning vision for the Strategy states: “Cape Town is a unique historic city. It derives its character from evidence of a layered and multi-faceted history, its dramatic scenic setting, its historical townscapes and cultural landscapes, its cultural and heritage diversity and the traditions and memories that arise from its past. The role of the City is to co-ordinate the protection and enhancement of this unique character. The protection of heritage sites and the traditions and memories associated with them, are an important part of City management. The City’s vision is where the heritage of its past and present inhabitants is respected, protected and enhanced through appropriate heritage management practices; adherence to sensitive, socially aware and appropriate heritage concepts, and integration with other City responsibilities and policy objectives”.

Darling St, looking towards Adderley St

National Heritage Resources Act 25 of 1999

In terms of Section 34 of the National Heritage Resources Act No. 25 of 1999 (NHRA) all structures older than 60 years are “provisionally protected”. This means that a permit is required for any proposed alterations and additions to structures older than 60 years.
If your structure is older than 60 years, an application must be submitted to Heritage Western Cape (HWC). This application must contain the comment from the City of Cape Town’s Environmental and Heritage Resources Management branch (EHRM), the local Ratepayers Association and any locally registered Interested and Affected Parties (I&APs).

Railway Station (demolished)

The reasoning behind this 60 year clause is to ensure proper heritage management in South Africa. This process assists with identification, assessment and management of the older buildings. Heritage resources significant enough to be considered part of the national “estate” in Section 3(2) of the NHRA, may include inter alia:

  1. Places, buildings, structures and equipment of cultural significance;
  2. Places to which oral traditions are attached or which are associated with living heritage;
  3. Historical settlements and townscapes;
  4. Landscapes and natural features of cultural significance;
  5. Geological sites of scientific or cultural importance; 
  6.  Archaeological sites and objects;
  7.  Graves and burial grounds;
  8. Sites of significance relating to the history of slavery in South Africa; 
  9. Moveable objects including military objects, fine art, books records, documents, archaeological and paleontological objects, and materials. 

Cultural heritage significance means aesthetic, historical, scientific, architectural, spiritual, technological or/and social value/ significance. The process of deciding why a place is of heritage significance is called heritage assessment. Assessment helps to work out exactly why a place or area is important and how parts or elements contribute to its significance. Understanding heritage significance is essential to making sound decisions about the future of a place, and is central to developing a conservation plan. It guides management actions, such as planning compatible uses, can inform the development of educational materials, helps to justify the allocation of resources and to explain to people why a place is important. The assessment of the heritage significance of a place or object is the essential departure point for any system of heritage management. The NHRA requires the heritage significance of any site or object be assessed so as to ensure the appropriate level of management of the country’s heritage resources. Assessment of the heritage value or significance of places and objects and ensuring adequate legal protection follows a clear sequence of actions, as follows:

Houses of Parliament, statue of Queen Victoria and the demolished St George’s Cathedral
  • Identification of places and objects that have apparent value in heritage terms;
  • Identification of significant factors that make the place or object valuable in heritage terms;
  • Assessment of significance using heritage assessment criteria;
  • Determination of degree of significance of the place or object (grading); and
  • Assignment of the appropriate level of formal legal protection and management by the relative heritage authority.


A culturally significant resource or site is considered part of the national estate if it has cultural significance or any other special values due to:


  1. Its importance in the community, or pattern of South Africa’s history;
  2. Its possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of South Africa’s natural or cultural history; 
  3. Its potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of South Africa’s natural or cultural heritage;
  4. Its importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of South Africa’s natural or cultural places or objects; 
  5. Its importance in exhibiting particular aesthetic characteristics valued by a community or cultural group; 
  6. Its importance in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period;
  7. Its strong association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons;
  8. Its strong and special association with the life or work of a person, group or organization of importance in the history of South Africa; and
  9. Sites of significance in relation to the history of slavery (Section 3[3] NHRA).

Declared sites

The NHRA provides formal protection for national and provincial heritage sites. Such sites are required to be declared by way of a notice in either the Government Gazette or Provincial Gazette. Provincial heritage authorities must compile and maintain a heritage register listing the heritage resources in the province, which it considers conservation worthy.

General Post Office (demolished) Site of Golden Acre.

Not Declared Sites

The Act provides in Section 7 for the protection of heritage resources that have not been formally protected. The South African Heritage Resources Authority (SAHRA) published regulations providing for grading systems and heritage resources assessment criteria (Government Gazette No. 24893. Government Notice No. 694 dated 30 May 2003). These criteria are to be applied in assessing the significance of heritage resources for Grade 1, 2 and 3 heritage resource grading.

Grade I:

Heritage resources with qualities so exceptional that they are of special national significance;

Grade II:

Heritage resources which, although forming part of the national estate, can be considered to have special qualities which make them significant within the context of a province or a region;

Grade III:

Other heritage resources on a local scale that are worthy of conservation.

Grading is an important step in the process towards the formal protection of a heritage resource, such as a declaring it a National Heritage Site, Provincial Heritage Site, or, in the case of Grade III heritage resources, the placing of a resource on the Heritage Register. It is not an end in itself, but a means of
establishing an appropriate level of management for the process of future formal protection.
Heritage resources can be “Graded”, “Ungraded” or “Ungradeable” as follows:
  • Graded: The Heritage Authority has applied its mind in order to determine a grading for the resource or sufficient information is available to determine the grading;
  • Ungraded: The Heritage Authority has not yet applied its mind in order to determine a grading for the resource, and/ or insufficient information is currently available in order to determine the grading;
  • Not Conservation worthy (NCW) The resource does not have enough heritage significance to be retained as part of the National Estate.
GRADE 111 sites are further divided into categories according to their significance.
  • Grade IIIA This grading is applied to buildings and sites that have sufficient intrinsic significance to be regarded as local heritage resources; and are significant enough to warrant that any alteration is regulated. Such buildings and sites may be representative, being excellent examples of their kind, or may be rare. In either case, they should receive maximum protection at local level.
  • Grade IIIB This grading is applied to buildings and/or sites of a marginally lesser significance than Grade IIIA and/or of lesser quality. Such buildings and sites may have similar significances to those of a grade IIIA building or site, but to a lesser degree. Like Grade IIIA buildings and sites, such buildings and sites may be representative, being excellent examples of their kind, or may be rare, but less so than
  • Grade IIIC This grading is applied to buildings and/or sites whose significance is, in large part, a significance that contributes to the character or significance of the environs.
St George’s St (demolished turret of St George’s Cathedral)

Provincial Heritage Authority: Heritage Western Cape Guideline

In terms of section 8(4) of the National Heritage Resources Act, “A local authority is responsible for the identification and management of Grade III heritage resources and heritage resources which are deemed to fall within their competence in terms of this Act”. Registered Conservation Bodies play an extremely important role in assisting with the identification of heritage resources, which are important to the community, and can provide local knowledge in determining their significance. The benefits to Local Authorities in implementing heritage management in terms of the NHRA include the protection of local resources, giving certainty to local property owners as to what is and is not protected, and enabling them to have their applications dealt with at a local level. The specific
management tools discussed in the guideline include Grading (NHRA Sections 7 and 8), Surveys (NHRA Section 30), Heritage Registers (NHRA Section 30) and Heritage Areas (NHRA Section 31). Public Participation Process (PPP)

In March 2018, HWC gazetted the PPP draft guidelines for applications. For an application in terms of the NHRA section 31, the HWC has prescribed the PPP prior to submission to HWC.