Another block of flats for Wellington Avenue?

An application for the demolition of 34 Wellington Avenue has been lodged at Heritage Western Cape (HWC). The single-residence property is expected to make way for either an apartment or a townhouse development.

Aerial view of the property

As the heritage value of the property has been compromised over the years, mostly as a result of inappropriate additions and alterations, the heritage consultants evaluating the property could not find enough reason for the property to be saved.

Picture of stoep and car port

Another factor is that there are no notable heritage properties in the area.

However, “the retention of the wall, hedge and gates will keep the status quo of the street edge and streetscape, and screen much of the proposed development,” said the consultants in their report.

Gate, wall and hedge of 34 Wellington

The actual age of the property is uncertain. It seems to have been in existence in 1888, but little of the original structure remains.

WHAT THE WRRA SAYS

The WRRA, who has been approached for comment by HWC, agrees with the specialist that the building is of little heritage significance. The WRRA has no objections to the demolition, as long as the front garden wall, hedge and wrought iron gates are retained so as not to spoil the street view.

“In development of the site, the WRRA will support a building that is in keeping with the cultural landscape of the area. In other words, the block of flats should be fit in with the neighbouring properties on the west side of Wellington Avenue, which are currently single- and double-storey houses. To go higher than this would set an undesirable precedent for this part of Wynberg,” said Kristina Davidson, WRRA chairperson and exco member for heritage.

Interestingly, the two sides of Wellington Avenue fall into different zones. The eastern side (towards Main Road) is zoned GR4, which allows buildings of up to 25 m, which is why a five-storey apartment building is currently under construction at 21 Wellington Avenue.

The western side (towards Victoria Hospital) is zoned GR2, which allows buildings of only 15 m or two to three storeys. 34 Wellington is on this side of the road.

Read more: Do you know how your street is zoned?

The WRRA has warned, however, that the heritage specialist should also consult with surrounding neighbours before approving the recommendations, as the Palm House experience has shown that lack of consultation is enough reason for HWC to turn down applications.

Read more: Palm house – safe for now

HERITAGE REPORT SUMMARY

Reasons not to demolish to the site

  • There are mostly old single storey buildings on the west side of Wellington Avenue, so a development will change the character of the street.
  • The building is a version of an earlier structure, together with the chimney.
  • The front garden wall, hedge and gates form a positive edge to Wellington Avenue.

Reasons to demolish and develop the site

  • The building is not part of a similar group of other such buildings.
  • It does not belong to any local typology.
  • It has lost most of its original fabric and has been unsympathetically altered.
  • Restoring the property to its original heritage glory would be very costly.
  • Much of its decoration is fake and inappropriate.
  • There is a precedent in the area for non-single story buildings, including the adjacent building.

The full heritage report prepared by the independent consultants makes for fascinating reading and should be of interest to everyone in Wynberg who owns a property older than 60 years.

Read the full heritage report here.

Owner/developer: Karma Property Investments (the same company developing 21 Wellington)
Independent heritage consultants: Andrew Berman and Andre Pentz of Pentz and Berman Architects
All pictures in this article courtesy of the heritage report.

Above: Wellington Avenue at the turn of the century. Below: Wellington today

Wellington Avenue then and now. “The extensive erven [of Wellington Avenue] were particularly suitable for their development as flat sites, which were much in demand during the difficult period that followed WWII.” – Dr Helen Robionson, Wynberg historian, in her book Wynberg – A Special Place

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