Simon's Town Heritage Advisory Committee
Guidelines for the Conservation and Development of the Simon's Town Conservation Area
Scenic routes contribute substantially to the way in which the character of the place is experienced by both local inhabitants and tourists. They play a vital role in the local and national tourist industry and can thus contribute to the economic base of the area. Red Hill Road is a scenic route of metropolitan significance which penetrates into the urban conservation area. Runciman Drive is a scenic drive of local significance. View lines to the sea and dockyards must be preserved. This section deals with guidelines for land adjacent to Scenic Drives. For the sake of clarity these guidelines have been developed for the public authority and for private development.
RETENTION OF PUBLIC LAND ADJACENT TO SCENIC DRIVES
Existing portions of public held land adjacent to scenic routes, either in the form of road reserves or public open spaces, contribute substantially to the experience of mountain and views. As a matter of policy Council should retain these portions of land or acquire them from other state or parastatal agencies. Only in exceptional circumstances should they be alienated. Where development pressures exist Council should retain ownership and lease land with strict environmental parameters established to ensure view preservation.
DEVELOPMENT OF PUBLIC LAND ADJACENT TO SCENIC DRIVES
Where deemed appropriate, Council may develop its own land adjacent to scenic drives for public use. New development should be constructed in a sensitive manner so that important views from Scenic Drives are not impaired. Such development should reflect a sense of place and reinforce local identity as elaborated elsewhere in this document. Innovative architectural approaches should be subjugated in favour of development that respects traditional forms and materials. The overall conservation principles identified earlier in this document apply.
CONTROL OF INTRUSIVE ALIEN VEGETATION ON PUBLIC LAND ADJACENT TO SCENIC DRIVES
Alien vegetation in many instances blocks important views along Scenic Drives. It also detracts from the "sense of place" which these routes are supposed to enhance. Red Hill is particularly badly affected. The negative effect of alien, invasive vegetation has been cited by the South African Nature Foundation as a major threat to scenic views in the Western Cape as a whole. Non-invasive alien vegetation, such as stone pines, palms and some gums, along Scenic Drives are often an important element of the "cultural landscape" and should be protected.
The route is essentially a linear element cutting through a variety of elemental conditions (pristine nature, significant cultural landscape, historical architectural quarter), and can frequently be out of scale with them. Roads cannot vary in standards as safety is of paramount importance. Every effort should therefore be made to reconcile this potential conflict between the unchanging linear road and the ever-changing landscape.
The following general objectives or guidelines apply for shaping and enhancing the visual experience of scenic drives.
To present the viewer with a rich, coherent sequential form, a form which has continuity and rhythm and development, and which provides contrast, well-joined transitions and a moving balance.
To clarify and strengthen the driver's (and pedestrian's) image of the environment to present a picture which is well structured, distinct, and as far-ranging as possible.
To keep the observer's grasp of the meaning of the environment; to present an understanding of the use, history, nature or symbolism of the drive and its surrounding landscape.
The primary objective is to ensure that the route is as interesting and stimulating as possible.
Control of Views
GUIDELINES FOR PRIVATE DEVEOPLMENT ADJACENT TO SCENIC DRIVES
(Including the control of development on erven close to, but not immediately adjacent to Scenic Drive)
Views are obviously potentially affected by development on all portions of land between the drive and the visual amenity, not only developments immediately adjacent to the scenic drive. Existing scenic drive regulations regulate only development immediately adjacent to scenic drives. To this end it is recommended that the area controlled by existing regulations be extended to include all public or parastatal land adjacent to the Scenic Drive and the immediately abutting private land. Within the designated conservation area the Council should also control the nature and form of private development that in its opinion would impact on the view from the Scenic Drive.
CONTROL OF DOWNWARD VIEWS
As a general guideline development on the seaward side of Scenic Drive should not project above the back or footway level. While this protects horizontal views it does not protect downward views. The increasing use of driveway platform along Runciman Drive, and their negative impact on views, illustrates the problem.
CONTROL OF UPWARD VIEWS
Existing regulations only control development on the lower side of Scenic Drives, largely due to the coastal nature of existing drives. However, upward views of the mountain are also regarded as significant. As a general guideline, sub-division on the upper side of Scenic Drives should allow long deep plots to enable a staggered system of terraces, a more gradual vegetated slope than the canyon effect often created, and thus the preservation of mountain views. No boundary wall on the upper side of a Scenic Drive should be higher than 1,5m from the top of the boundary wall determined by maximum height above natural ground level (e.g. 8m) should be stipulated which no development should be allowed to occur. Consideration should be given to the imposition of a condition for all developments adjacent to a Scenic Drive that a landscape plan be formulated to indicate view preservation and enhancement and the nature of boundary walls and planting.
Parking & Driveways
CONTROL OF ROOF DECKS FOR PARKING AND ACCESS DRIVES
Roof decks, often with shade cover for parking, access drives, rails and balustrades impact negatively on the view from Scenic Drives.
As a general guideline it is recommended that roof parking at street level, on the downward side of the Scenic Drives, should not be permitted. If roof deck parking is required, this should occur at a level not less than 2m below existing footway level.
Boundary Walls & Fencing
The nature of fencing, particularly when comprising closely spaced vertical components, can have a negative impact on views particularly when viewed at relatively high spots. Fencing, railing and gates should be visually permeable so as not to affect the view materially.
Controls contained in Section 9.6 of the Simon's Town Zoning Scheme apply: Fencing, railings, gates and similar structures which:
<em>do not exceed a maximum height at any point of 1,2m above the nearest point on the footway of such Scenic Drive
have maximum finished external measurement of not more than 80mm in the case of the diameter of any vertical or horizontal cylindrical element, and not exceeding 80mm in the case of the cross-sectional measurement of any vertical or horizontal rectangular element
have vertical elements which are not less than 1,5m from any other such vertical element
have horizontal elements which are not less than 300mm from any other horizontal element
have infill material between and horizontal and vertical elements which if of mesh or mesh-type material and which is galvanized and so constructed that the solid portions thereof do not exceed 5% of the total thereof, may with the consent of Council be constructed above the level of the nearest point on the footway of such Scenic Drive.
No continuous solid material, timber, brick vibracrete or glass, should be permitted as a boundary wall treatment on the downward side of Scenic Drive. Low stone walls, or plastered brick (max. 600mm) and widely spaces pillars (min. 4m) should be permitted.
While trees and hedges can sometimes frame and emphasize a particular view or create an avenue, they can also function to screen a route from private landowners. No vegetation within the scenic reserve, (the road reserve and adjoining public and private property) should be permitted to grow above footway level in such a manner that it would, in the Council's opinion, detrimentally impair the view from a Scenic Drive.
Similarly important landmark vegetation and tree-lined avenues require protection.
Signage and advertising guidelines as they relate to urban conservation areas are delt with elsewhere in this document. The South African Manual for Outdoor Advertising Control (SAMOAC) defines different types of landscape and area of control Scenic drives are classified as areas of maximum control.
The Manual should be consulted for the identification of appropriate signage opportunities adjacent to scenic drives.