With its five International linkages and billed as the ‘Oldest Working Battery of original Guns in the World’, we realised that East Fort had superb Heritage Tourism Potential to attract visitors both to Hout Bay and to the National Park but having participated closely in the run-up to the Park’s establishment we realised that any plans had to fit into whatever framework the Park had in mind for the conservation of their many cultural heritage sites. However it appeared to us that from their published
CPNP “Draft Development Plan”, that East Fort fitted perfectly into their conceptual “Gateway” philosophy as outlined by the schematic below and this was the obvious route to follow. The way forward seemed clear, not only did the Park’s policy seem suited to East Fort’s “Conceptual Gateway” philosophy but the closure of Chapman’s Peak Drive, following the fire, could present a unique opportunity to provide services and other facilities which under normal circumstances would be impossible.
As Chapman’s Peak Scenic Drive, in its entirety, is in the National Park it seemed logical to the Association to incorporate a “Gateway” into the Park prior to the East Fort precincts which would be the first introduction that visitors travelling from Cape Town would have to the National Park. An “East Fort Gateway” would fulfil all the conditions of the Draft Development Framework (schematic below) and at that stage a proposed sympathetically designed toll plaza could have been incorporated. A meeting / Workshop was held on the 5th Jun 2001, attended by a large number of delegates, at which a Vision Statement was agreed on by those attending. The Rationale included the ultimate creation of a Military Heritage Trail as defined in the Accord. The independently chaired meeting meeting was a great success with a vast majority of the participants in full agreement. However, the Association’s ideas were discarded by the Provincial Roads Dept who clearly were in the roads business and not in either the Tourism or Heritage business, neither were the ideas actively pursued by the Park, no reason being given by either party. A classic case of public participation being ignored by disinterested public officials.
Extract from the Cape Peninsula National Park Draft Development Framework “Channelling visitors in the Cape Peninsula National Park” (May 1998)
Since the Scenic Drive was reopened, this sign (left) at East Fort has been the only indication to visitors that they are in a National Park, neither is there an indication that they are entering a World Heritage site. To all the commuters its just another road, but to the visitors it is a magnificent scenic drive unrivalled in South Africa - if they only knew where they were!
At that stage Heritage Western Cape did not exist and though SAHRA was supportive.The CPNP was proclaimed a National Park for its bio-diversity, its heritage sites were destined to be Graded at a provincial level (Grade II) and the responsibility of the Province. At that stage Heritage Western Cape (HWC) did not exist so technically or conveniently for those accountable, it would seem that nothing could be done and the site remained in limbo. In 2003 HWC was established but was not awarded “competency” until 2011 and thus were not able to create Heritage Agreements until then. We are only aware of one being agreed in Cape Town, that being the one for Robben Island which like the TMNP is a World Heritage Site.
The Initial Framework that was suggested to the Park seemed like an ideal solution for East Fort. However, it never happened our guess would be that the 20 or more proposed gateways would be, like heritage sites, all different. Though the plan looked as though it was designed for an East Fort 110% fit, it was shelved like the majority of other Gateways. The original Development Framework allowed for more than enough facilities and activities and would have more than filled the needs at East Fort.
A re-visit of the “Gateway” approach is covered later in the “Solutions“ Section.