Melrose Arch must be one of Johannesburg’s most special places, but it’s as tourist-friendly as an apartheid-era security keypoint.
It’s a stunning piece of urban design and architecture. It’s a stunning environment with great shops and places to eat or relax.
You may have coffee, a meal or go shopping there, but you may not take any memories home or show your friends how great the place is.
I was stopped for taking photographs. “Where’s the sign saying no photography?” I asked. “There isn’t one,” was the reply “but it is in the rules. If you want to take photographs, you need to fill in a form to get permission. And you have to pay if you publish any of the photographs you take.”
What utter claptrap, what stupidity! Doesn’t Rennie Property, who manage the complex, understand the importance of tourism and the benefits of free exposure? Their rule is an embarrassment to the security guards who have to enforce it. And imagine enforcing it during the World Cup!
If you own a property that hopes to boost earnings from tourism, would you appoint Rennie Property to manage it? Would the V&A Waterfront be SA’s number one tourist attraction if it imposed a rule like that?
Leaving the Melrose Arch precinct brought back memories of the dying, macho days of PW Botha’s old regime — tank traps that rose out of the tarmac were installed at the entrance to Parliament. Melrose Arch’s version are steel tyre-shredders that will rip the guts out of most cars. I know this is Johannesburg… but one doesn’t need visible reminders of how rough the city is all the time.
Pity… it’s really such a nice place. Here are a few pics (which we refuse to pay for) which show why.
Postscript: Vanessa Clark, Rennie Property’s PR consultant, responded to this in the comments and subsequently reported: “I have been informed that the Rennie Property team at Melrose Arch have met again with the security manager and clarified the situation with regards to photography. I have been assured this will resolve any miscommunication or misunderstanding that might have taken place. I’ll keep an eye on the matter though, as this is something important that we need to get right.
“Thanks again for raising the issue.”