Yesterday, we shared an article by Ground Up on how the residents of Bo-Kaap, one of the city’s most historic suburbs are fighting against the development of 19-story building in the area. The building (dubbed the ‘monster building’) was approved by The City of Cape Town’s Municipal Planning Tribunal, despite strong objections from the community.
We asked you whether you think the proposed building should be stopped or not. There was a resounding number of objections to the building. Many feel that the development will interfere with rich heritage of the Bo-Kaap, others feel it will spoil the view. There were, however, a few who felt that this is just natural development, and there should not be much of a fuss.
While we all have our opinions, the only opinions that truly matter are those of the Bo-Kaap residents. This building will affect them most of all, and they do not want it. One of the biggest campaigners against the development is the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association. They started the Bridges Not Barriers campaign to stop the development. We caught up with Jacky Poking, spokesperson for the association, to find out exactly why the ‘monster building’ poses such a threat.
‘The biggest issue we have is gentrification. Even if this building was much smaller, its target market are people in a different class bracket to Bo-Kaap residents. It is not meant for us. Because of zoning, the developers and Municipal Planning Tribunal are well within their rights to start the development, but it will still heavily impact our community and culture.’
‘We have already seen it with other developments and residents who do not originally come from Bo-Kaap. A new hotel in De Waterkant has put in a noise complaint for a mosque when it does its call to prayer. Residents complain about the noise when the minstrels walk. That mosque is one the older ones in the area and the minstrel walk is an important tradition. We love our Bo-Kaap heritage and traditions, and do not want to lose them.’
These concerns are just the beginning. Bridges Not Barriers are also worried that their rates will go up into brackets residents simply can’t afford, forcing them to relocate. They are also concerned that if this development is built, it will have a domino effect that will see more high rises built, essentially cutting the Bo-Kaap off from the city. The below graphic from Bridges Not Barriers depicts how this is possible. The proposed development is in red:
Poking says: ‘We are very concerned, and that is why we are fighting so hard. If this building is allowed to go up, what’s stopping the other businesses from raising their properties? Now that the tribunal has approved the development, despite the 1 200 signatures we gathered against it, we are waiting for the official notice of the decision, and then we will appeal to the mayor. We believe if everyone rallies and there is enough social pressure, we can stop the building.’
Photography courtesy Hipe Beast, Bridges Not Barriers, BKP Anti Gentrification Network