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Govt and Opp latest clash over DPC decisions

GSD Opposition and Government of Gibraltar have again clashed over past, present and future decisions made by the Development and Planning Commission. Yesterday, the Opposition expressed concerns regarding upcoming applications for Hargraves Parade, Rosia and Catalan Bay due to be considered by the DPC in the next sessions.

Shadow Minister for Planning Trevor Hammond said in a statement he hoped that with so much development being planned, Government, would take a long view of the impact one area may have on another and keep at the forefront the spirit of the 2009 Development plan.

“While Government may believe it needs the revenue from the sale of public land, the benefit of short term gains must not be allowed to outweigh the long term damage to our community that short sighted decisions, taken now, could have,” he said.

Following previous decisions made by the DPC, such as the demolition of the old Risso Bakery, the Opposition statement questioned whether the 2009 Development Plan was still being adhered to and raised its concern at what it termed as “the seeming lack of overall planning consideration of how one development may impact on another”.

“We have already seen within the town area the destruction of both the Risso Bakery and part of the Old Police Barracks by private developers with Government approval. Iconic locations that are now lost forever and decisions which fly in the face of guidance in the Development Plan which states 'planning is about protecting the public interest against the private interest',” commented Mr Hammond in a statement.

On Hargraves, Rosia and Catalan Bay, he said, each site had significant sensitivity.

The Government has sought expressions of interest for a multi-storey car park at Hargraves.

“This of course may not have been necessary had Government not been so short sighted in removing so many parking spaces, but construction of such a structure, removing one of very few open spaces remaining in town and certainly not in keeping with its surroundings must be questioned,” said the GSD statement, adding there was also significant concern about the amount of development taking place or under consideration around the Queensway area and the reclamation. In addition to Eurocity, West One, Kings Wharf and Mid-Town are all proposing high rise developments.

The Government is also set to be handed over the Rooke shortly, and it has already stated it intends to sell the asset to a private developer.

“One can foresee a concrete jungle of development in which nearby residents will seriously affected,” said the GSD.

“While Government may believe it needs the revenue from the sale of public land, the benefit of short term gains must not be allowed to outweigh the long term damage to our community that short sighted decisions, taken now, could have,” said Mr Hammond.

 

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE

The Government responded by claiming that the GSD’s comments was further evidence that they simply did not understand the full implications of their own statements.

“It is obvious that all they have done is jump on the bandwagon of every conceivable on-line petition that is doing the rounds because they have no ideas of their own,” said the Government statement.

The Government stated that the 2009 Development Plan reflected the policy of

the GSD when in office and “is not set in stone.”

An instruction for a new Development Plan to be produced has already been issued.

 

Refusing to take blame for the old Risso Bakery demolition, the Government insisted it had nothing whatsoever to do with the development plan and “the root cause of the demolition lay in the inability of the party in Opposition to save the building from decay and deterioration during the sixteen years that they were in office”.

 

“The state of the building was the reason why demolition was independently authorised.”

 

The Government also added that in spite of the development plan, it was the GSD that located a multi-storey car park next to the Bakery that dwarfed the surrounding buildings and set a precedent for future development in the area.

 

“The Opposition can only point the finger at themselves,” claimed the statement, adding that the same thing happened with Police Barracks, which was Government-owned, and where remedial action could have been taken much sooner.

 

The Government further insisted the majority of the complex has been saved, will be refurbished and will provide homes for many people.

 

“The only areas that were demolished were those that were deemed to be dangerous and beyond economical repair.”

 

“The public will gain from the demolition of this area because the area will be

used for an open square plus a pedestrian walkway where no such walkway presently exists in a very narrow street.”

 

The Government statement also said that the close proximity of two new schools make it essential that such a walkway can be provided.

 

On the proposed car park at Hargraves, the Government said: “it is nowhere near in size, height, scale or massing to the one authorised by the GSD in Engineer Lane.”

 

“In fact, the proposal is for a couple of storeys with the provision of upgraded sporting facilities on top.”