Probe into changes to Donkin Street houses

Brian Hayward

THE Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is investigating whether property developer Ken Denton is illegally altering the city’s iconic heritage site, the Donkin Street houses in Central.

Over the next week, the municipality will determine whether the alterations to the heritage houses by Denton’s company received any authorisation from either the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority (PHRA), or the SA Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA).

Developers wishing to renovate any homes which are more than 60 years old and considered national monuments must apply to the two organisations for permission, and undertake the renovations in a way that does not structurally alter the homes’ facades.

If Denton is found to have contravened any laws – namely those in the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999 – the municipality will consider applying to the high court for an urgent interdict to stop the alterations.

The issue was brought up yesterday before the municipal public accounts portfolio committee during a discussion of the much-delayed adoption of the Problem Buildings By-Law, the public participation process for which was flawed, councillors heard.

“No permit has been applied for by the developer and no permit was awarded, according to PHRA,” councillor Bernice Wright (DA) said.

Last week Bay resident Andrew Reed wrote to The Herald to complain that Denton’s renovations of the 19th century houses were altering them drastically, including having the “service alley behind the houses, clearly representing the history of the built environment, removed and the front facade replicated on the backs of the houses”.”This, along with removal of chimneys, structural and boundary walls and windows is totally illegal,” Reed wrote.

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