NELSON Mandela Bay property magnate Ken Denton has been ordered by the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority (Phra) to cease renovations of the historic Donkin Row houses because he does not have permission to do so.
According to Phra, which issued a cease order on Monday, Denton Properties, which owns the houses, has fallen foul of section 34(1) of the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999.
The section says no person may alter or demolish any structure or part of a structure which is older than 60 years without a permit issued by Phra.
Should Denton fail to cease renovations of the 150-year-old houses and apply for a permit, the organisation has threatened to sue him in accordance with section 51(1) of the Act.
After Denton Properties began renovating the Donkin Street, Central, row late last year, there was an outcry from local historians who claimed the work was altering the character of the national monuments.
Although Denton could not be reached yesterday and did not respond to questions from The Herald sent earlier in the week, Eastern Cape Phra heritage manager, Mzikayise Zote, who issued the cease order, said he had spoken with Denton.
"Denton phoned me this morning [yesterday] to say he had received the order and was going to comply,” Zote said.
In his application for a permit, Denton would have to detail what renovations had already been done, Zote said. A Phra permit committee would then inspect the houses.
"The cease order was issued because there was no permit. We have nothing against Denton. What we stand for is compliance with the law,” Zote said.
"When we receive the application, we must go as a permit committee to see if any damage has been done.”
Zote said he could not yet say what action would be taken if Denton was found to have damaged any of the houses.
In December, the Mandela Bay Heritage Trust submitted a report to Phra alleging that Denton’s renovations were changing the facade of the row, including installing the "incorrect balcony woodwork and balcony roof ”.
The report, compiled by Bay architect Bryan Wintermeyer, suggested Phra issue a compulsory repair order, or consider the extreme action of expropriation of the national monuments should Denton fail to act.
Bay resident Andrew Reed wrote to The Herald last month to complain that Denton’s renovations of the 19th century houses were altering them drastically, including having the "service alley behind the houses, clearly representing the history of the built environment, removed and the front facade replicated on the backs of the houses”.