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'No action on Bay buildings'

BY Site Admin

NOTHING has happened since Mayor Zanoxolo Wayile appointed a multiparty task team to investigate deteriorating buildings in Nelson Mandela Bay three months ago, claims DA councillor Terry Herbst.

 

“I’m very concerned that after three months no action has been taken against building owners who are contributing to the decay of our inner city,” he said, referring specifically to Ken Denton’s illegal demolition of certain architectural features of the old Post Office in Baakens Street.

 

Provincial Heritage Resources Authority (PHRA) chairman Mavuso Dokoda said he had not been aware of the demolitions before being notified by The Herald last week and said he had not received a letter from Herbst informing him of those occurrences.

 

Nancy Sihlwayi, chairman of the Heritage Building Management Programme, the formal name of the mayor’s heritage task team, said it was still very much on track. She said the issue of Denton’s heritage buildings had become an emotional issue and he was not the only negligent landlord.

 

“Remember, we are a government and have to do all our processes procedurally without any emotion.”

She said there were three areas to their strategy – to do a diagnostic valuation, to identify different categories of houses in bad condition and to interact with owners of those buildings regardless of whether they were private or public property.

 

“We started with Central because of its significance (as) a tourist attraction area. We identified (a large number of) dilapidated houses, the majority of which were owned by Denton.”

 

But she wanted to remove the impression the programme was only concentrating on Denton’s buildings.

In March this year the programme held a public meeting to afford members of the public an opportunity to air their views.

A while later, Denton was contacted about the buildings and he insisted on meeting the programme representative directly, but at the same time said he was leaving the country.

 

“He was to inform me when he came back, and I am still waiting for him to come back to me,” said Sihlwayi.

 

Many departments, such as health, security and housing, were involved in the programme’s mandate, she said.

The programme agreed to hold a workshop, but the institutions dealing with heritage buildings on a provincial or national level, Sahra and PHRA, said they first had to resolve some internal issues between the two organisations. However, a meeting between them and the programme has been set for May 25.

 

“The workshop will give us a clear understanding of ensuring we present a clear implementation approach on different categories,” she said.

 

They had already completed the inspection of dilapidated buildings in the northern areas, Uitenhage and Despatch and the process was carrying on. She said the security and health of the community had to be protected irrespective of whether buildings were privately owned or owned by the municipality or the province.

 

The programme was also investigating Denton’s recent illegal demolition on the old Post Office in Baakens Street. “Whether it was a good or bad move from Denton, the PHRA and Sahra are going to deal with him.”

Sihlwayi said the municipality could only take action if instructed to do so by the PHRA.

 

Ivor Markman - The Herald

 May 18, 2010
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