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Friday, 19 June 2020 07:48

HERMANUS CBD Public Space Manual 2nd Draft - June 2019

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The Hermanus CBD requires a cohesive public realm with a unified material language for streetscapes and open space areas. Over the previous years the improvements to Market Square, Gearings Point and the cliff path walkways have undoubtedly made a dramatic improvement to the quality of the public spaces of the Hermanus CBD. Similarly, the investments in the public realm associated with the Station Square and Woolworths developments have reinforced the quality of the town. However, much remains to be done.

These newly landscaped spaces do not connect well with the core CBD and a number of the streets and spaces of this core are in poor condition. There is a multitude of different paving materials and a variety of types of street furniture.

The Hermanus Public Space manual is one of the tools for fulfilling the town’s strategy in planning, designing, managing, operating and using quality public spaces. The manual is a document responding to Hermanus’s CBD Regeneration Framework that identifies the importance of public spaces for the quality of life in the CBD. The regeneration objectives identified promote a strengthened sense of place, promote ease of access and creates a vibrant public realm.

In order to achieve these objectives, an unified design language has to be adopted and rolled out throughout the CBD.

The Public Space Manual needs to fulfill a number of requirements, these include:

• Define the character and branding of the public domain in order to contribute to the “sense of Place” of the Hermanus CBD;

• Identify the appropriate materials and furniture for use in the public realm;

• Give guidance on how and where to use materials and furniture in the public realm;

• Consider maintenance aspects; and

• Consider management of replacement stock for the various elements used in the public domain.

The Public Space Manual contains the following components:

• Public Space Considerations and Objectives;

• Understanding Public Space in Hermanus CBD;

• Material Palette;

• Desired Streetscapes; and

• Maintenance considerations and implementation strategy.

The Public Space Manual is designed to be a “living document”, that is consistently updated to ensure that it is up to date with the latest developments in terms of materials, use and application.



The public domain plays an important role in the definition and preservation of this character and has the potential to add value to the historic character of the CBD and its sense of place. The public domain is where people meet and congregate, the public space is what defines a place.

The scale and size of the Hermanus CBD makes it an attractive place to walk. No matter with which mode of transport you arrive there, everybody is also always a pedestrian. This consideration should be part of all design decisions being made.


The following principles need to be taken into account when planning public spaces.

  • CREATE CONSISTENCY AND DE-CLUTTER - The range and types of materials and spatial elements should be limited, in order to create the impression of a consistent and coherent public realm. Remove all unnecessary and redundant elements.
  • STRENGTHEN SENSE OF PLACE AND IDENTITY OF HERMANUS - A uniform language in the treatment of elements used in public space is a strong tool for creating a brand in Hermanus. By limiting types of materials and elements it creates a recognisable language for the town. In addition, the clear assignment of materials to types of spaces promotes legibility and clarity in the public domain and can strengthen and celebrate the history and identity of Hermanus.
  • PROMOTE GENDER MAINSTREAMING - The needs of both men and women need to be equally considered when dealing with the public domain. Especially women have different requirements with regards to safety and security, access, etc.
  • CREATE PUBLIC NODES - The public domain is a place where people congregate and meet. The creation of pause moments, provision of seating and placement of special features like art, pergolas etc. help aid in facilitating this behaviour and bring people together.
  • INVOLVE AND COMMUNICATE WITH THE PEOPLE - It is vital to involve all stakeholders in the design and implementation process of public spaces as it allows for transparency, greater understanding and ensures there is general care and ownership.
  • PROMOTE SAFETY + SECURITY IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN - Safety and security are fundamental aspects that need to be considered when operating in the public domain. This includes ensuring that spaces are active, legible, visible and allow for passive surveillance. Public space design should avoid creating hiding places and ensure adequate lighting at night at the appropriate places. Clutter, decay and outstanding maintenance, all negatively affect the overall experience and perception of safety and security of public spaces.
  • MAKE THE CBD MORE GREEN, WHY TREES? - Trees within the public realm are important as they add to the quality and experience of public space. Additionally street trees are specifically important to the ecological functioning of the CBD and aid in the reduction of heat, provision of shade, retention of water, prevention of erosion, reduction of greenhouse gas, improvement of subsoil, as well as improved biodiversity.
  • CREATE A WALKABLE CBD AND AN ENVIRONMENT THAT PROMOTES CYCLING -  This can be achieved by prioritising connections and safe pedestrian movement along a network of active street frontages. And by increasing the foot traffic along these routes, the economic resilience of the businesses within the CBD can be strengthened. Hermanus currently lacks acceptable cycling infrastructure and a complete network of cycling paths is required. These routes should be dedicated and specially demarcated on High Mobility and Structuring Routes, and shared (integrated in the roadway) on local connectors and shared streets. The network needs to be combined with strategic places to park.
  • ENSURE UNIVERSAL ACCESS - Public space needs to be accessible for all people and needs to make provision for people with special needs. This includes people in wheelchairs or other mobility problems, visually impaired and people with prams.  This means that pedestrian routes require even surfaces, dropped kerbs at crossings, ramps that are a maximim of 1:12 max and colour differentiation that supports the definition of functional areas.



The focus area for this manual is referred to as the Hermanus Central Business District (CBD). In the context of Hermanus, this refers to the central area of town, bounded by the coastline to the south and east, Lord Roberts Street to the north and the municipal precinct to the west of Royal Street.

This manual places emphasis on the design and materiality of public spaces within the CBD. These public spaces include, squares, transit areas, parks, natural open areas and roads and parking areas.


Hermanus CBD has a unique character as an historic fishing village with an important relationship between the historic village and natural coastal edge.

Hermanus was founded on the basis of these rich and diverse (natural) resources which contribute to its unique identity and strong sense of place. Reminders of the relationship with the coast and its history as small fishing village can be found scattered throughout the CBD and the historic harbour area. The 2009 Overstrand Heritage Survey identified several buildings of local heritage importance with the most complete segments found on Aberdeen, Long and High Streets. Other important historic reminders are the passageways that link the CBD to the coast and the informal paths (that have been formalized into the cliff path), originally used by fishermen going to specific fishing points. The cliff path that runs along the coast still has a significant number of the place names that have links with fishing and are historic fishing spots.

The Hermanus Regeneration Framework already proposed the protection and enhancement of heritage resources through adaptive reuse and improved NMT/walkable connections of public realm that links through the CBD and to the coast. In addition, the choice and limitation of materials and landscape palette for the CBD as defined in this manual provides a canvas for the history of Hermanus. Rather than direct and pastiche reminders, the pallet seeks to reveal the existing structures and enhance the grain and character that drew people to the area in the first place. Lastly, the manual identifies areas for various special interventions, like public art, with the intention that this can contribute to the sense of place and the narratives of the area.


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