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Govt awards contracts worth £163.4m for ‘overdue’ affordable housing schemes

Pic by Eyleen Gomez

The Gibraltar Government has announced the award of two construction contracts for affordable housing projects worth £163.4m in total.

The contract for Chatham Views has been awarded to SITUS Construction Group and the contract for Sir Bob Peliza Mews has gone to GJBS Ltd.

“The contract for Chatham Views has been awarded to SITUS Construction Group in the sum of £57.4m,” No.6 Convent Place said in a statement.

“The contractor will now begin their mobilisation period with the aim of starting works on site as soon as practical.”

“This estate will deliver 228 apartments, inclusive of 44 flats for the elderly and take 30 months to complete.”

The contract for Sir Bob Peliza Mews was awarded to GJBS Ltd in the sum of £106m.

“The contractor will also begin to organise their mobilisation with a target to take possession of the Waterport site at the end of May this year once the structural demolitions are completed,” the Government statement said.

“This will allow construction to begin on the first of the two phases which will deliver 253 apartments and take 24 months to construct.”

“The second phase of Sir Bob Peliza Mews will start as soon as AquaGib’s facility is relocated.”

“This phase will deliver a further 229 apartments, including 83 flats for the elderly and take a further year to construct from completion of the first phase.”

“In total, this estate will deliver 482 apartments inclusive of the flats for the elderly.”

These two estates, when combined with the 665 apartments at Hassan Centenary Terraces, will provide a total of 1,375 apartments inclusive of 127 flats for the elderly, the Government statement said.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo welcomed the announcement of the contracts for construction of “these overdue homes”.

“They will be magnificent properties for the purchasers when completed and will form the basis for the establishment of many young Gibraltar families,” he said.

“The delays to the delivery of these properties relates exclusively to Brexit and Covid and they are now finally on their way to being delivered.”

“Purchasers will be disappointed by the delays but no doubt very happy to note that construction will now commence and that they now have clear timelines for the delivery of their homes.”

Delays to construction of affordable housing projects resulted in tense exchanges between the Gibraltar Government and the GSD recently after Mr Picardo wrote to purchasers of properties in the two estates.

Buyers were informed that construction costs had increased significantly since the prices for Bob Peliza Mews and Chatham Views were set but that the Government would honour the original prices for existing purchasers and absorb the increase in the construction costs.

But this drew a stern response from the GSD, which condemned the Government for the delays for the affordable properties.

The GSD said the Government could not use Brexit and Covid to “absolve itself” for the delays to the housing estates.

In a series of exchanges between the Gibraltar Government and the GSD, the Opposition described the situation as one of “incompetence and mismanagement”.

The GSD said that in the run up to the October 2019 election, the Government continued to give the impression that “everything was on track” and that there were no delays to the completion of these developments “by making self-congratulatory announcements” about the number of applications received for Hassan Centenary in February 2019; about the sale of flats at Bob Peliza Mews in June 2019; and then again in July of that year about the sale of flats at Chatham Views, stating, in relation to this development, that it would commence in the last quarter of 2019.

It added that all of these dates were after Brexit and before Covid, “and clearly used for electoral gain”.

The Government countered that “no stone has been left unturned” in trying to deliver the homes sooner but that Brexit and Covid had combined to create “a tumultuous period” that hindered progress on these projects.

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