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ESG, GONHS and Heritage Trust voice concerns over Eastside plans

Eyleen Gomez

Three local environmental and heritage organisations will meet with the Gibraltar Government to voice their concerns about the planned development of the Eastside reclamation.

The Gibraltar Heritage Trust, the Environmental Safety Group and GONHS set out their concerns in a joint statement after the Government’s issued a call for expressions of interest to develop the site. 

The organisations explained that this land footprint offers a major development opportunity for Gibraltar and whatever form of development takes place there must be the right choice for the community. 

“This is a very major development for Gibraltar and once the site is developed there will be no turning back,” the statement read. 

The NGO’s are therefore seeking information and clarity form the Government and town planners on a cross section of issues. 

These include the “key priority” of ensuring there is a holistic vision for the entire site and that the impact of the demographic shift is properly understood, particularly in terms of infrastructure and the impact on the environment.

Additionally, they are seeking assurances on the undertaking and publication of environmental impact assessments, as well as information on public access, parking and public amenities planned for the area.

Citing the proposed height of buildings within the development, the organisations cited this as a “major concern” and highlighted the impact it could have on the “historic and picturesque” village of Catalan Bay. 

“The direction given by Government that developers should plan their buildings to be no higher than Hassan Centenary Terraces is of major concern,” the statement said.

“These towers and their location will clearly transform the landscape at Eastern Beach.”

“Will efforts be made to avoid a similar impact on the historic and picturesque village of Catalan Bay, which is an extremely popular public amenity and touristic offering? Will the safeguarding of the village be enshrined in the development conditions?”

“Such a massing of tall structures would also have a negative visual impact on iconic views of the Rock of Gibraltar and potentially the World Heritage Site, and this must surely be taken into account.”

The groups also asked whether a wind study would be carried out to assess the impact of a mass of tall buildings on adjacent amenities, including beaches.

They said they would meet with the Government shortly and would table these concerns calling for more information and the finer details of these plans to be made public.