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Tuesday Jan 15, 2013

Call to preserve Tshwane's historic sites

The Tshwane Metro Council has been urged to preserve some of its historic buildings and structures in the inner city.

The memorial columns at the corner of Lilian Ngoyi (Van der Walt) and Madiba (Church) streets.

The municipality appointed Mashabane Rose Architects and Urban Designers to undertake a heritage impact assessment (HIA) and public consultation and to propose urban intervention.

The HIA report is available to read at the Es'kia Mphahlele Library, Sammy Marks Square, and the public has until February 4 to comment on it.

The municipality has proposed the restriction of traffic in certain streets as part of its Operation Reclaim project, aimed at revitalising the CBD.

The streets to be upgraded would be Lilian Ngoyi (Van der Walt), between Pretorius and Madiba (Vermeulen); Sisulu (Prinsloo) between Madiba (Vermeulen) and Pretorius; and Helen Joseph (Church) between Du Toit and Thabo Sehume (Andries).

Access control to these streets would be by an electronic boom linked to a CCTV control centre, with access banned for irregular users.

People with private business would be allocated off-street parking on the affected streets and clients of the businesses would be allocated limited parking.

The Tshwane Metro Police said the restriction of traffic in these streets could result in a large diversion of traffic.

This would put pressure on the alternative routes in the CBD.

"The closures will result in roads along the periphery of the CBD, such as Bloed, Boom and Nelson Mandela, being congested," the metro police department stated in its report.

"Thabo Sehume (Andries) and Paul Kruger streets will also experience increased congestion due to the diversion of traffic."

Before road closures and effective law enforcement could start and become effective, traffic engineering mechanisms needed to be put in place to assist law enforcement, the metro police said.

A number of issues are tackled in the HIA report.

They include historical buildings, memorials and sidewalks.

Heritage buildings identified in the report include the State Theatre, the SA Reserve Bank, the old Pretoria Technical College in Helen Joseph (Church) Street, the old municipal and State Library, on the corner of Thabo Sehume (Andries) and Madiba (Vermeulen) streets, and the Flemish Renaissance Church in Du Toit Street.

The neglected memorial outside Munitoria on the corner of Madiba (Vermeulen) and Lilian Ngoyi (Van der Walt) has also been identified as one of the structures that should be preserved by the municipality.

The report said the municipality should "keep the legacy of the city alive and pass it on to coming generations as a reminder of the 'good and bad'."

According to the report, Pretoria's inner city has few places "that convey a sense of comfort, safety and wellbeing during the day and at night for residents".

It said cities around the world had gone through a process of regeneration and had established the notion of comfort as one of the key elements to bring back to life zones that had fallen prey to urban decay.

It has been recommended that any artefacts uncovered during construction should be declared property of the heritage authority and, where possible, incorporated into the urban design.

Pretoria News

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