PHRA-G Approval – A Must-Have for Heritage Sites in South Africa | Legal Articles


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PHRA-G Approval – A Must-Have for Heritage Sites in South Africa

The term “PHRA-G approval” stands for Provincial Heritage Resources Authority-Grade approval. It is a process related to the protection and management of heritage resources in South Africa.

The South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) is responsible for overseeing the protection and management of heritage resources at the national level. However, provinces in South Africa also have their own Provincial Heritage Resources Authorities (PHRAs) that play a role in heritage management.

national heritage resources act

National Heritage Resources Act

PHRA-G approval, or Heritage Approval, refers to the authorization granted by the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority for certain activities that may impact heritage resources. These activities could include construction, renovation, demolition, or any other work that may affect a heritage site or property with historical, cultural, or architectural significance.

The approval process typically involves submitting an application to the relevant Provincial Heritage Resources Authority, providing details about the proposed activity and its potential impact on the heritage resource. The authority will then review the application and assess whether the proposed activity complies with the relevant heritage regulations and guidelines. If approved, the applicant can proceed with the planned work, ensuring that any necessary conservation and mitigation measures are implemented to protect the heritage resource.

It's important to note that heritage legislation and processes may vary between provinces in South Africa. Therefore, it is advisable to consult the specific guidelines and requirements of the relevant Provincial Heritage Resources Authority in the province where the heritage resource is located.

Is Your Home a Heritage Building in South Africa?

If so, here’s what you need to know.

What does PHRA-G govern?

Under the provisions of this legislation, any building or site recognized as a heritage site by PHRA-G or any building aged 60 years or older can only be modified or demolished once a permit is obtained from PHRA-G.

How can permission be obtained from PHRA-G?

There are specific requirements and procedures to follow when applying for these permits. Failure to comply with these requirements may cause unnecessary delays or even a complete halt to the proposed construction, alteration, or demolition. The application process involves using prescribed forms and submitting the required supporting documents as specified on the application form, which can be obtained from PHRA-G's official website. Further details regarding this process are provided below.

Who makes the decisions about approvals at PHRA-G?

All applications are reviewed and decided upon by the Heritage Council of PHRA-G based on their merits. Depending on the workload, applicants may experience a waiting period of two months or more, although generally applications are processed within a two-month timeframe. The Heritage Council convenes approximately once a month to review and discuss twelve to twenty applications at a time, depending on their complexity. The Heritage Council possesses the authority to approve, approve with conditions, or deny any application received.

Can decisions made by PHRA-G be challenged?

Decisions made by the Heritage Council can be challenged through two avenues. Firstly, in accordance with the Act, there is a right to appeal a decision directly to the Heritage Council itself. Secondly, an appeal can be made under the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000 ('PAJA'), in which case the appeal is directed to a judge of the High Court. The first type of appeal, conducted under the Act, can be handled by the applicant without legal representation. However, the second type requires involvement of a legal professional as it must be brought before the High Court. If the appellant remains unsatisfied after pursuing the 'internal appeal' to the Heritage Council as provided by the Act, or if this opportunity is denied, they can seek recourse through the High Court, requesting an order to set aside, modify, substitute, or remit the decision for re-consideration by PHRA-G.

Consequences of failing to seek approval before commencing work.

Failure to obtain the necessary approvals prior to starting construction, demolition, or alteration on a heritage site can result in the Heritage Council refusing to grant the relevant permission or imposing conditions on the approval. In certain cases, non-compliance with the Act's provisions may lead to criminal charges, potentially resulting in fines or even imprisonment. Moreover, PHRA-G is empowered to conduct investigations, request documents or information, and may even seek court intervention to halt unapproved activities. Such circumstances can cause substantial delays, spanning several months, and could potentially result in a complete denial of approval. This, in turn, would lead to a permanent suspension of the project, unless the decision to refuse approval is successfully overturned on appeal. Financial repercussions can be severe for property owners or developers, especially when significant holding costs are incurred for undeveloped properties. Furthermore, property professionals may face claims for damages if they were aware of the need for approval but failed to act, resulting in financial losses for their clients.

Obtaining approval after work has begun.

Although PHRA-G has the authority to grant retrospective approval, the Heritage Council takes a serious stance on those who commence work without prior approval. It can be exceedingly challenging to obtain retrospective approval in certain cases, and in others, it may be entirely denied. Therefore, it is crucial to seek and obtain the necessary permit before initiating any work to avoid costly delays incurred when PHRA-G orders work to be halted.

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated – Property Law Attorneys South Africa

At Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated, we understand the intricate complexities of PHRA-G approval and the importance of safeguarding heritage resources. Our team of experienced legal professionals is here to assist you every step of the way, ensuring a smooth and efficient application process.

With our expertise in South African heritage legislation and our commitment to protecting our clients' interests, we strive to deliver exceptional legal services. Trust us to navigate the legal intricacies and provide you with the guidance and representation you need for a successful PHRA-G approval.

Contact Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated today and let us help you preserve the cultural and historical heritage of South Africa.

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