NMBM Heritage Asset Register
This wide ranging project over several years deals with elements related to the built heritage in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. This has included developing a plan for the NMBM to compile an ‘Asset Register’ of built heritage structures and places as described in the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999 (NHRA). This plan is currently being implemented and would involve in total the heritage assessment of approximately 11 000 structures and sites.
The starting position of this project is an acknowledgement by the Local Authority of the value of heritage structures and sites to the Metro. The project acknowledges that the built heritage of the Metro (that is the focus of this Asset Register) is significant and valuable in that it is a substantial defining factor of how the Metro looks and is experienced, spatially comprises a substantial part of the inner city and has significant opportunities to contribute towards further developing tourism in the Metro and in job creation.
From the perspective of heritage legislation, the need for Asset Registers is acknowledged in various documentation including the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999, as an important tool for a Local Authority being able to identify its structures and sites of significance and then be able to better manage them. An Asset Register will allow the Local and Provincial Authority to put systems in place to allow for quick and relatively confident decision making to happen with regards to the built environment. It allows for heritage significant structures and places to become identified and protected as well as allowing prospective property owners and developers insight into areas where certain developments may be restricted. In this way it responds to a heritage imperative as well as a development need.
For this project, a GIS based system was developed that allowed field workers to capture a wide range of heritage related information on an erf by erf basis that is then uploaded onto the NMBM GIS database for use by officials in decision making. The fields identified for capture and the grading system adopted for this project is based on national and international best practice that makes it comparable to other Asset Registers nationally and compliant with national guidelines. This exercise allowed for a grading system that responded to the NHRA of 3 primary grades, but also allowed for a purpose made product for the NMBM of a grading system that is sensitive to the particular context of this Metro.
An outcome of this project is anticipated to be a Metro with identified heritage assets of varying grades, the possibility of establishing heritage areas and the possibility of integrating this information with Local Authority town planning frameworks so that increased controls, monitoring and awareness of heritage structures and sites can add aesthetic, emotional and (perhaps most importantly) financial value to the Metro.
In addition to the above, the project has also included other aspects such as the digitising of large municipal collections of heritage materials. This involved the sourcing and scanning of over 10 000 items including paintings, photographs, maps and other resources. These were collected on purpose made retrieval software application that located each of these resources in the Metro and linked it to a caption if available.
All the work above was undertaken with appropriate consultation with stakeholders and local and national experts to allow for a participatory process and expert commentary.