What is the HPOZ?

“The HPOZ is the mechanism for the protection of heritage places that the City considers to be conservation-worthy in terms of its heritage strategies. The tangible and intangible aspects of heritage places are acknowledged. The main drive of the HPOZ is the management of the physical/built aspects of heritage: these can be the physical components of traditional practices and traditions.”

“The Bo-Kaap is the oldest surviving residential neighbourhood of the City of Cape Town. The HPOZ envisages:

• the recognition and conservation of the Bo-Kaap as a unique historical urban landscape with a vibrant, living culture and way of life

• the promotion of the Bo-Kaap, not only as a significant place or heritage tourist destination for the enjoyment and enrichment of visitors, but also as a significant place and embodiment of a way of life for the residents of the Bo-Kaap and Cape Town

• the promotion of heritage tourism in the Bo-Kaap to stimulate economic opportunities for the benefit of residents

• the protection of the Bo-Kaap as an inner City residential area through the careful and considered management of development so as to avoid incremental decay of the social fabric of the neighbourhood”

From the City of Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap Heritage Protection Overlay Zone GUIDELINE DOCUMENT. The City of Cape Town has also provided their own FAQ.

What does HPOZ stand for and how does it work in relation to the Zoning Scheme?

HPOZ stands for Heritage Protection Overlay Zone. It is called an Overlay Zone because it sits over the base zoning layer, and provides heritage and other city officials with the legal right to amend the development rights (as set out in the Zoning scheme) of an individual property if they work against and threaten the overall heritage qualities of an area. Overlay zones are a planning mechanism designed to protect “shared community assets” like heritage or natural systems like rivers.

Does the HPOZ make applications by residents any more difficult?

Since the Heritage Act was passed in 1999, BoKaap residents who own properties older than 60 years have always submitted their plans to heritage. Bokaap has also been a “proposed HPOZ” for a few years,  so the heritage officials have been involved in assessing plans for some time. Because of this, nothing much changes in terms of the plan approval process for residential heritage properties that are older than 60 years

There are some “modern” houses in BoKaap – built in the last 60 years. Under the
proposed HPOZ, building plan applications for these properties will also be assessed, based on their impact. Sympathetic materials, heights and proportions will be required, so that these homes do not detract from the character of the area.

Heritage usually deals with building plan applications quite quickly. Most people find that it is the other department – notably Land Use Management (LUM) (formerly the Zoning Department) where most of the delays take place. 

How does the Zoning Scheme delay building plan applications?

The Zoning Department (now called Land Use Management – LUM) is a completely separate department to the Heritage Department. BoKaap was built long before the Zoning Scheme was promulgated. The Zoning Scheme seems to apply quite well to suburban areas,  but it does not fit into the very small Bo-Kaap sites very well. 

This means that sometimes even minor renovations at the back of a property are found to have a zoning departure because of building line setbacks..

Sometimes the zoning scheme says that the floor factor is “1”, allowing only single storey developments, whereas the owner wants to build a double storey. 

Most inner-city property owners find the zoning legislation confusing and the associated delays frustrating.

Obtaining approval for these departures from the City + neighbours can take months + perhaps even a year or two, especially if there are any objections from neighbours.

We believe that if we had a Zoning Scheme  - now called the DMS, Development Management Scheme -  that was better suited to the BoKaap context, these zoning delays could be eliminated.

As BoCKRA, we are requesting that the City relook at some of the base zonings and amend these to be suitable to our unique context.

Does the HPOZ make applications by developers on the Zonings Mixed Use 2 (MU2), Mixed Use 3 (MU3) + large General Residential 4 (GR4) properties any more difficult?

It is our understanding that building heights and aesthetics will be controlled by the provisions of the HPOZ. If developers are sensitive to the heritage context of Bo-Kaap, then their applications should proceed smoothly.

Does the HPOZ as it currently stands adequately protect the Bokaap from insensitive high-rise developments?

The current version of the HPOZ is a step in the right direction. At the same time, and as set out in the City’s HPOZ guideline document (pg 5), we look forward to working closely with the City’s officials on: specific provisions in terms of the Development Management Scheme (which) must still be developed and implemented after the designation of the HPOZ”. This will include a street by street and in parts, erf by erf assessment of the desirable heights and bulk for each property.  This is also called a “Precinct Plan”.

Where can I go for advice when I don’t understand why Heritage has issues with my  plans?

From time to time, it can be difficult to get plans approved by Heritage. The Civic has the contact details of a number of architects within the community who can help advise residents. It is best to contact the Civic and obtain the contact details of architects who can assist.