Permits to Modify Historical Buildings | Western Cape Government

Permits to Modify Historical Buildings


Heritage BuildingsTo comply with the National Heritage Resources Act, anyone who wishes to modify historical structures must apply to Heritage Western Cape (HWC) for permission. A historical structure is defined as a building older than 60 years.

Heritage Western Cape issues permits based on the merits of the application and an environmental impact assessment. This permit takes into account the development planning and zoning regulations of a local authority's Land Use Ordinance. By ensuring that heritage matters are included in impact assessments for proposed developments, developers can identify heritage resources.

Thus developers will be able to proceed without uncertainty about whether work will be stopped if a heritage resource is discovered.

The permit system addresses a range of heritage resources:

  • Archaeological
  • Palaeontological sites and meteors
  • Architecture
  • Ethnographic and decorative art
  • Graves and burial grounds, including ancestral and royal graves, graves of traditional leaders, and graves of victims of conflict
  • Places of significant historical events, landscapes and natural features of cultural significance;
  • Living heritage associated with heritage and oral history, or scientific merit
  • Sites relating to the history of slavery in South Africa
  • Shipwrecks

To apply for a permit to modify a historical building, you’ll need to complete an application form and send it to to receive a reference number.

Once you receive a reference number, you’ll have to send the application to

The following documentation is required upon submission:

  • Completed signed application form
  • Proof of payment with correct reference number
  • Proof of ownership:
    • Title Deed
    • A Power of Attorney,  if the owner did not sign the application form
  • Stamped, coloured up, scaled plans. A minimum of 2 sets not smaller than A3 sized
  • Locality Plan
  • Annotated Photographs:
    • Internal
    • External
    • Street scape / contextual – Google images are not accepted
  • Consultation:Local authority comments
  • Motivation – strongly advise for sites that have significant heritage value and total demolitions
  • Surveyor General (SG) Diagrams
  • Digital copies of all the required documents on CD or USB – USB’s are not returned

For further details see the websites of Heritage Western Cape and South African Heritage Resource Agency:

Apply for a permit with Heritage Western Cape:

Tel: 021 483 9698
Contact: Michael Janse van Rensburg

Permit applications must be made on the official form: Application to destroy, damage, deface, excavate, alter, remove from its original position, subdivide or change the planning status of a national heritage site, provincial heritage site, provisionally protected place or structure older than 60 years.

Provided by:
Government Body: (Department of Cultural Affairs & Sport, Western Cape Government)
The content on this page was last updated on 16 September 2022