City of Cape Town deemed competent to manage local heritage

As of 28 February 2013, the City of Cape Town became the first local authority in the Western Cape to have its competency assessed in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act. 

The City’s application was submitted to Heritage Western Cape after a negotiation period and the Heritage Western Cape Council has assessed the City as being competent.

The competency that was approved is for all assigned local authority functions relating to heritage management. This includes a range of functions such as administering heritage areas, identifying and mapping heritage places, and the issuing of provisional protection orders for sites under threat.

The National and Provincial Heritage functions, such as issuing permits for 60 year-old structures, remain unchanged and there is no change as regards the authority with which applications should be lodged.

The City’s 2005 Cultural Heritage Strategy laid the groundwork for the City to take on local heritage management responsibilities.

The new Cape Town Zoning Scheme, which came into effect on 1 March 2013, is aligned with the National Heritage Resources Act to give effect to the City’s powers to manage heritage. Applications for heritage places within the former Urban Conservation Areas will now be dealt with as applications under the new Heritage Protection Overlay Zone.

“The City has been managing heritage buildings and places in terms of its former zoning schemes since the 1980s, and will continue to do so with the City’s new Integrated Zoning Scheme under the Land Use Planning Ordinance,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Councillor Garreth Bloor.

Advocate Ronèe Robinson, Chairperson of Heritage Western Cape’s Council, says that the timing of confirming the City’s competence will help avoid any potential misunderstanding.

“It is an essential precursor to the City applying for heritage delegations, which would result in the streamlining of development application processes into one place. The City has excellent heritage management capacity and, with the requirements satisfied, the decision to deem the City competent followed logically. Negotiations around delegations of some functions will continue, and this will ultimately assist Heritage Western Cape greatly with its capacity across the rest of the Province,” said Advocate Robinson.

For more information on the City’s heritage resources, please visit

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