Simon's Town Heritage Advisory Committee
Guidelines for the Conservation and Development of the Simon's Town Conservation Area
Simon's Town's historical development has created a wonderful human scaled public realm of narrow lanes, walkways, stairs, streets and squares strongly related to the buildings around them.
St Georges Street with its colonnaded pavement and shops contrasts sharply with the old residential areas and their narrow lanes and streets like Thomas Street. The character of these public areas is as important to the character of Simon's Town as the historic buildings.
Key elements affecting this streetscape as it is known are:
The use of flagstone and stone setts for paving trafficked areas is characteristic. Stone kerbs, steps and retaining walls are widely used.
Painted & Plastered Masonry
Whitewashed masonry is found throughout Simon's Town. It is used for retaining walls to terraces and garden walls as well as for buildings. Lime wash gives it a distinctive character.
Iron & Steel
These materials were also widely used for lampposts, veranda supports, bollards, railings and gates. Cast-iron decoration was also widely used.
Trees & Shrubs
The canary palm or, Phoenix canariensis is, probably the most characteristic tree of Simon's Town both in the streets and public areas and in gardens.
Various species of fig, gum and other exotics like the Belhambre or Le Bella Sombra, Phytolacca dioica add complexity.
Some indigenous trees like the wild olive, milk wood and rhus species are also widely used.
Cape honeysuckle, Tecomaria capensis, and Plumbago are wide spread, being used as hedges and screens to gardens. Protea species like the leucodendrons once plentiful on the mountainside before the planting of gums, remain in pockets as well as rhus species.
Simon's Town is relatively free of strident billboards and aggressive advertising through the careful control exercised in the town.
Many of the signs are well designed and have been integrated into the building design.
New Large Scale Uses
CONTROL OF NEW, LARGE-SCALE AND NON-RESIDENTIAL ACTIVITIES AND LAND USES
The siting and form of new, large-scale and often inappropriate land uses, primarily due to their character, mass or commercial / industrial nature, can have a negative impact on the scenic experience.
Site development plans for the large-scale uses including group housing should:
inform the siting of any development with the intention of minimizing visual impact; inform the height, setbacks, massing and proportions of any development to reduce the potentially obtrusive impact
inform the appropriate location and nature of access roads and pathways to reduce excessive cutting, and filling and to ensure harmonious adaptation to existing topography
inform appropriate landscaping treatment to shield potentially intrusive land trees and to ensure adequate soil and vegetation stability.
The following general principles should be adhered to:
Design briefs should be prepared specifying development requirements and assessing the capacity of the landscape to absorb these. The natural and cultural heritage should be respected in all instances.
Rehabilitation of any available existing building should be considered as a preferable alternative to new development.
In most instances it is preferable for new buildings to be associated with existing settlements, rather than to use isolated sites on undeveloped land.
A landscape and townscape analysis should be undertaken to identify features that give a locality its character and sense of place and to assess the likely impact of development.
Ridges and elevated positions should be avoided for visual and climatic reasons.
Buildings should be located and designed to fit the scale of the surrounding landscape.
Landscaping and Architectural
The whole site should be considered as an entity, with all elements of the development, buildings and outdoor spaces, being conceived and planned together.
Buildings tend to blend more successfully with the landscape when aligned parallel to contours. Planting and walls can be used to tie buildings into landscape.
Platforms on sloping sites should be kept to a minimum, and new levels should be designed to fit into the surrounding landform.
Outdoor spaces should be designed so that the landscape appears to flow right through the site.
The layout and design of new buildings should respect local tradition.
Design themes and functions of outdoor spaces should be kept to a minimum and there should be a clear distinction between public and private space. The emphasis should be on simplicity.
The scale of buildings should be appropriate for their uses and should relate to that of their neighbours.
Extensions and modifications to existing buildings should respect existing styles, detail and materials.
Materials should be appropriate for the climate, ecology, texture and scale of the site and should be capable of weathering well over time. The general urban conservation principles contained in Section 3 apply.
Planting should be used to integrate the route into the landscape. Plant types should not be used to decorate the route, particularly in rural areas. They should rather reflect the indigenous flora through which the route passes.
The landscape should be brought as close as possible to the essential boundary of the road.
Every effort should be to build new planting into the structure of existing vegetation. Plant communities should be established which are characteristic of the local ecology.
Plant communities and groupings are more important than individual species although these too are important. Planting should thus occur is colonies rather than single specimens of trees or shrubs. Uneven spacing and a mixture of different sized plants should be used to create a natural appearance.
Landscaping should be used to improve the visual quality of environmentally impoverished areas.
Landscaping should be used to screen service areas and help absorb them into the landscape.