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Simon's Town Heritage Advisory Committee

Guidelines for the Conservation and Development of the Simon's Town Conservation Area

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General Principles

Orientation and siting of buildings

Most of the buildings in the conservation area are more than 60 years old with the oldest dating from early in the nineteenth century. These buildings reflect changing fashions in design, construction and use of materials. They nevertheless fit together well. The elements contributing to this successful fit are the basics of these guidelines. The physical environment, topography, aspect and climate have played a major role in shaping buildings in the conservation area. The placement of new buildings in a Heritage Area in relation to the streets, contours and boundaries should be assessed as part of the design process.

orientationMost of the erven in the conservation area are rectangular in shape. This is derived from the pattern of subdivision where roads run with the contour across the face of the mountain. Erven are then accessed either from above or below.

Buildings have been traditionally placed on their sites parallel to street boundaries. This pattern helps to unify the conservation area.

In recent subdivisions erven have become extremely narrow and elongated. This creates design problems that are difficult to solve.

Future subdivisions creating erven narrower than twelve metres should not be permitted.

Guidelines:

The traditional response to sloping sites has been to create small terraces by means of cut and fill and the use of retaining walls mainly built of stone. New buildings should follow this tradition.

New buildings and additions must be sited parallel to the street, or along the contour.

There is considerable variation within the conservation area, Mount Pleasant for example, is largely unaffected by the prevailing South-Easter, while properties at the southern end of the conservation area are exposed to sometimes gale force conditions. Careful consideration should be given to placing the elements of the new building to provide wind shelter.

Most erven are orientated towards the sea, NE and are therefore able to exploit both views and ideal sun orientation. (Because of the sloping conditions, building line regulations and Simon's Town's height regulations ("preservation of view') most properties have sea views.)

Most of the area consists of very thin topsoil on decomposing granite or clay. This makes building and landscaping difficult. A geotechnical investigation and report on foundations for all sites within the conservation area is required.

Scale

scaleScale refers to the size of a building in relation to a human and also to the surrounding buildings and space, including the streetscape. The buildings in Heritage Areas need to be assessed in terms of their scale and the space between buildings and the street.

Guidelines:

New buildings should be of a similar scale to the surrounding buildings that are characteristic of the area.

Additions to existing buildings should be of a similar scale or less dominant than the main building.

Massing

Although there are some very large buildings in the conservation area most are quite small. Many older houses are less than 100sq metres in extent. Buildings have been enlarged by small incremental additions over the years. Verandahs, small lean-to extensions, pergolas and roof dormers for example. The complexity that this has created is an important characteristic and should be reflected in new design.

Guidelines:

New buildings are to be made up of carefully articulated elements, which follow and step down according to the contours.

Carefully articulated elements
Inappropriate response
Inappropriate response

 

Proportion

The relationship between the height and width of a building and the height and width of the elements such as windows in the facades is an important design consideration. Most of the older buildings in Simon's Town were carefully proportioned, generally with a vertical emphasis with larger areas of solid masonry than openings.

Guidelines:

New buildings should take into account proportional relationships used by the surrounding historical fabric.

Large openings such as double or sliding doors should only be positioned onto covered terraces or verandahs.

Form

Simple narrow rectangles are the predominant form of buildings in the conservation area. Cross sections are generally less than six meters. Lean-to additions can be used to create wider spans if required. This form is ideally related to the traditional response to sloping sites; the creation of small terraces, of cut and fill and retaining walls. Buildings stepping down the slopes are a key characteristic of the conservation area.

Guidelines:

New buildings must be made up of narrow rectangles with cross sections of no more than six metres.

Lean – to's to be no more than four metres wide.

Generally with the contour
Maximum widths
Traditional response to sloping sites.

Existing Vegetation

Very little of the original indigenous vegetation remains due to the extensive planting of gums in the past. There are also non-invasive exotic trees of historical and visual significance. These must be retained. (Refer to the Simon's Town Tree List).