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Friday Nov 24, 2017

Ads a blight on Jozi landmarks

Advertising agencies are illegally defacing Joburg's heritage buildings.

This is according to Flo Bird, of the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation, after lodging a complaint about the illegal advertising wrap around the historic Mackay Mansions in the CBD.

Mackay Mansions in downtown Johannesburg.

Bird has claimed that advertising agencies, such as Wide Open Platforms, were illegally defacing the city landscape.

"It is near impossible to ignore the plethora of buildings draped in bold advertisements. For many locals, bright billboards are a natural part of the cityscape.

"However, for the heritage communities of Joburg, advertisers who do not adhere to laws threaten to damage historical sites and general aesthetics," Bird said.

Mackay Mansions is one such case of illegal advertising, she said.

"The old, dilapidated building is one of Joburg's art deco landmarks. The building, located on the corner of Rissik and Rahima Moosa streets, is protected by the National Heritage Resources Act of South Africa and is considered to be one of three important art deco buildings in the area."

However, very little of the building's architecture is visible beneath a large ad put up by Wide Open Platforms, an outdoor media company which specialises in "large format, high-impact advertising".

According to the Heritage Act, alterations to any building 60 years or older, such as Mackay Mansions, require a permit from the Provincial Heritage Resource Authority of Gauteng.

Bird said Wide Open Platforms had not acquired this permit prior to "defacing" the protected property.

City of Joburg member of the mayoral committee for development planning Funzela Ngobeni confirmed that the company responsible was not given the city's permission to erect a sign on Mackay Mansions. "Upon receiving the initial complaint from Flo Bird, officials approached the company that erected the sign, and it was subsequently removed. However, the company went back to the site and re-erected the sign," Ngobeni said.

"Officials will be meeting individuals such as Flo Bird and Eric Itzkin, from the city's immovable heritage department, who are both involved in heritage matters, to assist in the identification of all heritage buildings affected in order for the city to enforce standing laws," he added.

Wide Open Platforms has declined to comment on the allegations made against the company.

Anna Cox
City Watch
The Star


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