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The Independent Development Trust (IDT) has completed the first phase of a project to refurbish and restore workshop facilities for Department of Public Works in the inner city of Tshwane.

The project will help the department reach a significant milestone in the restoration of its buildings in the administrative capital.

The IDT has been working to prepare for the restoration of these historical workshop facilities to their heritage status since February 2018.

The scope of works on the first phase of the project cost R17.5 million and included the demolition of various buildings which had structural defects and civil works, earthworks and the restoration of access road between the heritage buildings.

Preserving heritage

The workshop facilities are used to house mechanical, painting and carpentry workshops and since the buildings are considered to be historically valuable, the department felt that they ought to be restored and refurbished to their original appearance and preserved as such.

As part of its social facilitation process the IDT says it reached out to the surrounding communities to source labour and sub-contractors therefore contributing much needed job opportunities for these communities.

“In addition, unskilled workers who were engaged in the project were trained and awarded certificates that will help them find suitable jobs elsewhere after the completion of the demolitions and civil works.”

Defining historical structures

According to the National Heritage Act, a historical structure is a building that is older than 60 years and no person may alter or demolish such a structure without permission from the provincial heritage resources authority. These buildings can only be refurbished so that they maintain their original look.

An example of such a structure in Tshwane is the iconic Union Buildings, built in 1910, which serves as the seat of the national government and remains a major tourist attraction in the city.

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