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Govt and GSD clash over new affordable homes project

The GSD yesterday called on the Gibraltar Government to review its plans for the Hassans Centenary Terraces development, insisting that the Eastside project has the potential to become a “generational blot on our landscape”.

This comes after the Development and Planning Commission roundly criticised the project and the GSD said its concerns were “merited”.

But, in hitting back, the Gibraltar Government insisted the GSD was simply “jumping on the bandwagon”.

It added that the project represented a development to help Gibraltarian families grow and so it “deserves the support of the whole community”.

In a statement the GSD said affordable housing is necessary but called on the Government to go back to the drawing board and review the aesthetic impact of the housing development.

“At the moment the high density development is planned over a series of massive towers some of which will be around 30 storeys high,” the statement read.

“The towers themselves will make a massive impact on the skyline and can only dramatically change that part of Gibraltar forever encouraging other developers to build high and affect the view of the north face of the Rock,” it added.

"We are still in time and Government should overhaul its plans to deliver housing in a more sensitive and sustainable way," GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said.

The party added that the pace and manner of recent development seems unbridled and it is difficult to argue for better controls of density and aesthetics from the private sector when Government itself is promoting a scheme like this.

Responding, the Government said the GSD “know full well the reality that land is extremely scarce in Gibraltar and is subject to competing interests”.

“They also know that when they were in Government, both the press and the public were shut out from meetings of the DPC,” No.6 Convent Place said in a statement.

The Government said it took the view that an area of land which has long been earmarked for high-rise luxury residential should instead be used to construct affordable homes for Gibraltarians.

“The Opposition may not agree. However, the truth is that this has been so successful that the project is oversubscribed with well over two thousand applications received for 665 flats.”

The Government said the development involves the construction of tall buildings but this is planned outside the city walls and in an area of land that did not exist until it was reclaimed from the sea.

It added that the heritage and environmental considerations are therefore minimal and the issue is simply about the height.

“The plain fact is that less tall buildings would mean fewer residential units for the people of Gibraltar to live in.”

“This is a development for working people who are eligible to be on the housing waiting list,” it added.

“The Government will proceed with this development of affordable new homes and it will ensure that an average of 200 such homes are built every year,” the Government said adding:

“That's what our people need and it is what they will get.”

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