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Thursday, 22 October 2009

Save the 100yr+ old Camps Bay Tramway Cottages


The auction sale boards have been erected on some of Camps Bay’s most historically important cottages at the intersection of Geneva Drive and Camps Bay Drive. The sale is due on 19 November 2009 and CBRRA is busy alerting the media, all residents and the heritage authorities which have jurisdiction over the preservation of these magnificent relics of the unique tramline which passed through Camps Bay for the first three decades of the last century. 

Not many residents are even aware of the existence of this amazing tourist facility which existed at the very inception of the modern history of this beautiful suburb. (See History of Camps Bay ). 

These houses were built by the Tramway Company for their drivers and staff. They were about the first houses built in “modern” Camps Bay in the early 1900’s simultaneously with the Rotunda Ballroom (now a part of the Bay Hotel), the timber Norwegian cottages in Crown Crescent and Camps Bay Drive (the latter now demolished), the tram shed and power station (which is now the Theatre on the Bay and Brighton Court) and the seawater warmed indoor swimming pool next to last on link Street (now demolished).

These houses therefore have an irreplaceable history which it is imperative to preserved forever into the future. The demolition or alterations thereof to any parts of their facades must never be permitted.

 CBRRA recognises the present and future owners’ rights to dispose of their ownership to others, but any future sale must be on condition and legally binding on new owners that the demolition of or external modifications to any or all of these houses will never be permitted. 

After consulting the Town Planner Tommy Brummer, CBRRA has gone about this campaign as described in the extracts from letters between it and the relevant authorities and persons as follows: 

From: Tommy Brummer 

To: Chris Snelling 

Sent: Thursday, 8 October 2009 

Dear Chris 
 We discussed the stone cottages on the lower reaches of Geneva Drive, Camps Bay, yesterday. Please confirm that the best strategy for the CBRRA to take is to write to Heritage Western Cape advising it that the cottages are being sold on auction shortly and that if any applications for demolition or alterations are submitted, then such applications must be advertised to the CBRRA. In addition it would be a good idea to inform the auctioneer of the fact that the buildings are graded and protected heritage assets. 


Tommy Brümmer 

From : Chris Snelling

To: Tommy Brummer 

Sent : Friday 9 October 2009

Hi Tommy,

Your e-mail and our telephonic discussion refers:

The Stone Cottages in Geneva Drive Camps Bay are essentially already protected in terms of Section 34 of the National Heritage Resources Act.

 As far as I am aware, indeed I am fairly certain that they have been afforded the Grading of the equivalent of either IIIB or possibly IIIA by the City of Cape Town and are listed as such in the survey that Karin Strom conducted for the City back in the 1990's.

 They, (the cottages), are of both architectural merit and certainly have high historic significance in regard to the history of Camps Bay. Indeed along with the Rotunda and the " Swiss", (Norwegian), wood cottages they are probably the most significant and landmark structures in the area.

Given the properties are at this stage only going up for auction it is difficult to give better advice in regard to the concerns as you have raised. Certainly at this stage one could not question the intent of any party wishing to purchase or bid for the properties and in this regard it would be difficult if not impossible for HWC to consider any form of formal provisional protection in terms of Section 29 of the NHR Act.

 It would however not be a bad idea to contact the Auctioneers and alert them to the significance of the structures and to inform them that demolition of the structures would be out of the question, (certainly in my opinion) and that any plans to alter or add to the buildings would entail having to get the consent of Heritage Western Cape to do so.

Such proposals are also likely to be strictly scrutinized.

 I would also advise the Ratepayers to put any concerns they may have in a formal letter to HWC, and ask that if any plans are submitted to HWC in regard to the building that they be notified immediately. Indeed, given the Ratepayers are registered with HWC as having an interest in the area this would be required by law in any event. It still would not hurt to write a formal letter in any event.

I trust this is of assistance.



Chris Snelling

From : CBRRA 

To : Heritage Western Cape – Mr. M Abrahams, 
Mr. Ralph Bruch – Owner, 
Ms Kim Faclier - Saville Row, 
Mr Johan Cornelius – City of Cape Town Environmental and Heritage Management 
Sent : 19 October 2009


Heritage Western Cape 

Attention : Mr. M. Abrahams

Dear Sirs, 


The Camps Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association (CBRRA) has recently been informed that the above seven historic cottages are due to be auctioned for sale shortly, on 17 November 2009. 
 While CBRRA fully understands that no future potential buyers are, as yet, known and therefore cannot be contacted in respect of these purchases, this letter serves to inform you that CBRRA and the Camps Bay population consider these particular properties to be of great historical and architectural value to the heritage of Camps Bay and environs, due to their age and importance in the early history of the area. 

Any application in the future by any present or future owner of any or all of the buildings for the demolition of or alterations to the external facades of any or all of the buildings will be forcefully opposed by CBRRA and the local population by any means possible, legal or otherwise. 

CBRRA refers you to the correspondence below between Planner Tommy Brummer and Heritage Consultant Chris Snelling, in which it seems to be that these buildings may already well have some form of protection in terms of Section 24 of the National Heritage Resources Act. 

CBRRA respectfully hereby requests that you inform it whether this is so and, if so, the actual details of such legal protection, in order that it may inform the present Owner and the prospective Auctioneer of such facts so that they can inform all prospective buyers thereof before any sales are transacted.

Should no legal protection exist, can you kindly inform CBBRA as to how it may organise or apply for same, either now or in the future when or if demolition / alteration applications are submitted to you. 

Should any such applications be made to you in the future, CBRRA requests being informed thereof without any delay, in order that it may register its objections thereto to you timeously.

Furthermore, CBRRA will appreciate you advising it how it can ensure, now or at the time of any future demolition application which may be submitted to you, how it, local residents and others can successfully oppose such application(s).

As the proposed auction sale is scheduled to take place on 17 November 2009, you can appreciate that this enquiry is of extreme urgency and CBRRA will appreciate your earliest possible reply to this matter. It will be willing to attend any meetings with you and / or any other relevant affected authorities in order that total clarity on the processes needed for opposition against demolition / external alterations can be properly obtained by CBRRA on behalf of the population in Camps Bay and elsewhere. 

Yours faithfully, 

Trudi Groenewald



From : CBRRA 

To : Heritage Western Cape – Mr. M Abrahams
, Mr. Ralph Bruch – Owner
, Ms Kim Faclier - Saville Row
, Mr Johan Cornelius – City of Cape Town Environmental and Heritage Management 
Sent : 19 October 2009


Mr. Ralph Bruch,

Owner of the existing properties listed below, 
 Camps Bay
 Saville Row Auctioneers

Attention : Ms. Kim Faclier

Dear Sirs / Madam


The Camps Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association (CBRRA) hereby refers you to the correspondence below sent simultaneously with this letter to the relevant Heritage Authorities in connection with the pending proposed sale by your Client, Mr. Bruch, by auction of the above properties, about which CBRRA has recently been informed. 

CBRRA and residents fully recognise the present Owner’s absolute right to dispose of the properties in question to whomever and in whatever manner he wishes. 
However, it is important to record here CBRRA’s and residents’ concerns that the sale could result in applications being made by the present or future Owners for the demolition of some or all of the above existing buildings or for permission to alter the external facades thereof. 

CBRRA hereby wishes to inform you, the present Owner and the prospective Auctioneer, of its and the local population’s opposition to such applications which may be made in the future. It hereby requests that all prospective purchasers of the properties be properly informed before and at the proposed auction sale of the opposition to any such applications which will emanate from CBRRA and the local population and others should they, in due course, be made. 

You will appreciate that, other than the Theatre On The Bay structure, these houses are the last vestiges of that portion of Camps Bay’s history which featured the unique tramline from central Cape Town to Camps Bay over Kloof Nek and back via Sea Point from about 1900 to 1930. The houses in question housed the drivers and staff of the trams and it will be absolutely unthinkable that they be damaged in any manner whatsoever at any time in the future. 

CBRRA has researched the degree of heritage protection which the buildings currently enjoy and wishes to enforce all such protection which currently exists. CBRRA is willing to meet with the Owner’s representative and the prospective Auctioneer to discuss this matter at any time in order that all parties understand the issues at stake. 

Please acknowledge receipt of this letter and inform CBRRA that the prospective buyers will informed as requested above. 

Yours faithfully, 

Trudi Groenewald



From : Kim Faclier of Saville Row

Dear John

Thank you very much for the call and this email, the contents all of which noted.

 I fully respect these gorgeous properties and no need to worry - the Heritage status will be totally protected in terms of clients requesting information as per the Bidder’s Information which we’ve done.

 As the owner of # 8 The Fairway, Camps Bay, know that I am totally on-board.

 Attached kindly find an invite to the auction for you all.

Warm wishes and take care; 


From : Johan Cornelius

To : All

Sent : Tuesday 20 October 2009

Dear All
 The 4 e-mails above refer.
 We want to confirm that the buildings in question are all older than 60 years and therefore protected under section 34 of the NHR Act as stated by Chris Snelling and they enjoy a Grade 3 (b) grading as per the Karin Strom survey. Further to this, our section fully supports the contents of the e-mails below. In fact, it would also be helpful to bring Chris's letter, which explains the significance of the building, to the attention of the auctioneers

Best regards.

Johan Cornelius

Environmental & Heritage Management

Table Bay District

City of Cape Town

Residents can assist by writing to the above authorities to support CBRRA’s efforts to preserve these buildings.

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