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DPC puts focus Devil’s Tower developments

The Development and Planning Commission has deferred a decision for a 26 storey project on Devil’s Tower Road over concerns about the rapid development of the area.

The decision was deferred until September to give the Commission time to work closely with the developers of 92 Devil’s Tower Road on issues including the height and character of the development.
The DPC is also working on drafting guidelines for further construction in that area.

The location of the proposed development would make it one of the first buildings to be seen by people entering Gibraltar via the runway tunnel, making it an important location.

With prices starting at £125,000, the developer calls the project “a hotel at home”, with amenities such as a café, a restaurant, a spa, a laundry and a gym on site.

The developer is hoping the attract buyers such as companies looking to rent spaces for employees, divorcees, people who live in Spain but want a pied-à-terre in Gibraltar, and young professionals.
A presentation by the architect, the developer and a specialist in rock falls was made to the Commission yesterday.

Jonas Stahl from Arc Designs explained that the main body of the building would be set away from the rock face and set back from the Devil’s Tower Road, creating a public space in the process.
There would be an automated car park at the rear of the site, which can accommodate 63 vehicles.

On the protection of the development against any potential rock fall, Mr Stahl explained that there were a number of measures incorporated into the design.

These include reinforced walls, eight metre high fences on six metre high embankments and a sand cushion.

Addressing concerns some DPC members had regarding rock falls, Mr Lightbody, the consultant working on the project, explained that he has looked at various plans for the site for 15 years.

Studying the rock falls that have occurred in that area, he stated that most amount to less than one cubic metre of rock. The rock fall last March however produced 1,400 cubic metres of debris and rock.

Based on the information he has collated over the years, he feels there are ‘robust mitigation measures’ taken by the developer that exceed those that may be necessary.

It was also noted that the creation of the building and its rock fall protection features would make the area safer for anyone passing by, be it in a vehicle or on foot.

The maintenance of the rock fall protection measures will be down to the developer.

On the height of the development, Mr Stahl showed a variety of computer generated videos that showed the building from three different approaches.

Mr Stahl refers to the fact he development plan states that “height is relative to context”, and while this development may be higher than others on Devil’s Tower Road it is in proportion to the Rock height. He noted that the development was 16% of the Rock height at that location.

During the Town Planner’s report it was noted that the area could have artefacts dating back to Neanderthal or medieval times and as a result would need a desk based archaeological assessment, to establish whether work was need on site.

While the height and character of the building still need some work and discussion between the developer and town planning.

It was felt that the strategy for Devil’s Tower Road needed work also.

There was a concern that the rate of change in the area was happening without a proper evaluation of the plans for Devil’s Tower Road.

It was noted that an ad hoc approach to planning could impact the future of the area.

24-28 Engineer Lane
Approval was granted for a six-storey project at 24-28 Engineer Lane. Last month the application was deferred to allow a redesign.

This redesign showed both the fourth and fifth floor were now set back and there was a reintroduction of commercial space on the ground floor.

Based on these amendments the application was authorised.

47 Line Wall Road
The Commission did not discuss the application for an eight-storey development on Line Wall Road, at the site of the Amar Bakery, and instead deferred the decision.

The deferment was due to a legality issue regarding the Section 19 notice.

Some types of development are subject to public participation requirements under Section 19 of the Town Planning Act.

If Section 19 applies, the developer must place a notice on site for at least 14 days on the same day the application is submitted and place a notice in the Gibraltar Gazette, a daily and weekly newspaper.

The Section 19 notice has to have the correct address on it to make it legal. The Section 19 notice for this development did state it was for 47 Line Wall Road, however the address for the section of the building on 15 -17 College Lane was omitted.

Based on this, the Section 19 notice failed and the application was deferred so that the developer could rectify the problem.

Pic by James Astengo

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