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 of the idea in principle, at the promulgation of the then recent NHRA required that all previous National Monuments were automatically Graded as Grade II (Provincial Heritage Sites). At that stage HWC did not exist so technically or conveniently for those accountable it would seem that nothing could be done.
In 2003 we were told by SAHRA that they were in the process of elevating all Grade II sites in the Park to Grade I status, at which time they would be happy to put significant support behind the project. That was at least 15 years ago. The TMNP has Grade I status for its Bio Diversity (Natural Heritage) but not for its Cultural Heritage - How much longer do we have to wait for the pennies to drop!?