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With an eye on swifts, DPC clears three Upper Town projects

The regeneration of the Old Town received a boost this week when two development projects gained approval at this month’s meeting of the Development and Planning Commission.

The first application heard was that of 7 Lime Kiln Road, a property that had laid empty for some time and needed works carried out on it.

The family who purchased the property sought permission to extend it and convert it into their new home, a move that was welcome by the DPC.

It was noted in the Town Planner’s report that it was a “sympathetic development” and there were no formal objections.

The house has the street name on its wall which will have to be retained and details of various items such as shutters need to be provided to Town Planning.

While the application gained approval it did prompt Commission member and ornithologist Dr John Cortes, the Minister for the Environment, to ask why the swift survey had not been completed and filed together with the planning application.

Many applications need to ensure that they have swift and bat boxes to facilitate the presence of these species in Gibraltar.

A swift survey is carried out to ascertain if swifts do in fact nest in the roof or home of the building seeking permission. If they do, works cannot be carried out in that area of the building until the birds have flown to Africa for winter.

Dr Cortes said waiting for planning permission before a swift survey is conducted increased the length of time a developer has between gaining approval and starting the building project.

In addition, he asked for nests to be incorporated into the design of the roof instead of boxes, with approval for these nests to be given by GONHS and the Ministry for Environment. He said that both of these entities could work with the applicant regarding design.

Fellow Commission member and GONHS General Secretary, Dr Keith Bensusan, agreed with Dr Cortes and noted that there is a high density of common swifts in the area. He added that this bird does not like the man-made boxes as much as the pallid swifts.

The common swift migrates around September and the pallid swift in October.

Also gaining full planning permission is the development at 2/58 Flat Bastion Road and 3/5 and 9/11 Bado's Passage. The project won a Government tender for the site. The applicant was seeking permission to extend and re-develop the residential and ancillary areas of the site.

The Town Planner, Paul Origo, noted when the development earned approval that it was “another urban renewal project ticked.”

In keeping with revitalising the Old Town area, an application to convert a tattoo parlour a Turnbull's Lane into a catering company was refused at yesterday’s meeting. The application had been referred from the subcommittee as the proposal is contrary to policy.

The Town’s Development policy states that Turnbull’s Lane is a secondary shopping street and that the aim of the policy is to concentrate shops within the same area.

In the Town Planning report, it was noted that there were two new residential projects in the pipeline and that as a result there would be more footfall in the area. With this in mind it is hoped that the area will attract more retail commercial businesses. It was recommended that the application was refused permission and it was refused unanimously.

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