George’s changing landscape is not going unchecked as the George Municipality has mechanisms in place to address not only the extent of development, but also its visual appeal.
George Municipality Senior Spatial Planner, Delia Power, said development in the George municipal area was being addressed holistically by the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and is complemented by documents such as the George Municipality Urban Design and Architectural Guidelines, Zoning Scheme By-Law and Local Spatial Development Frameworks. “This means that, while people have the right to build and create all types of buildings, there are some general guidelines that apply to ensure that the overall look of the city remains aesthetically pleasing.”
The Urban Design and Architectural Guidelines were drafted in 2009, and guide new development as well as the alteration and renovation of existing buildings. The document also informs the recommendations of the George Municipality Aesthetic Committee, which taps into the voluntary expertise of local architectural and construction professionals in collaboration with municipal town planners and building control officials.
The committee meets at least once a month to consider all building plans in which the appearance of a structure would have a significant impact on the built environment. These include business developments, site development plans, community buildings such as churches and schools, large billboards, and buildings of historic significance as well as proposed architectural guidelines for large scale residential and business developments.
The committee can only make recommendations – the final decision remains the delegated authority of the Deputy Director: Planning. To maintain the integrity of recommendations and decisions, committee members may not participate in aesthetic assessments of projects in which they may have any interest.
Mrs Power said the city’s rich architectural heritage was also an important aesthetic consideration and was being managed with the generous support of registered heritage conservation bodies and Heritage Western Cape. “While a Built Heritage Inventory has been approved by Heritage Western Cape in 2016, the municipality does not yet have a comprehensive register, nor an official in its employ with the relevant expertise to make recommendations regarding improvement to heritage assets.
“Applications for alterations and improvements to structures suspected of being older than 60 years are therefore referred to Heritage Western Cape, irrespective of whether they are on the George Built Heritage Inventory or not. Such buildings may also not be demolished without prior consent and, if identified, will be listed on the inventory and referred as necessary. The municipality is committed to fulfil its duty as custodian of the city’s assets, and its mandate to promote conservation, and welcomes advice and information from the public regarding the identification and preservation of heritage buildings.” Such information may be communicated to Nico Koen at 044 801 9176.
In a fast-growing city such as George, aesthetic considerations must also take into account the new reality of urban intensification, which does not have to be unappealing and harsh. “The municipality will continue to develop and improve its policies and frameworks to ensure the development of quality living environments. We will continue to partner with the private sector to ensure that the appeal of our city improves and that historic and other assets are celebrated,” said Mrs Power.
A copy of the George Municipality Urban Design and Architectural Guidelines can be obtained by contacting Mrs Power at 044 801 9476 or Mrs Corlize Bester at 044 801 9117.Last published 13 June 2018