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Plans filed seven-storey building on Rialto site

Gilman Holdings Ltd has filed an application for a development at the Rialto Cinema in Turnbull’s Lane.

The application seeks to demolish the existing buildings and construct a seven story block of 58 apartments that will retain the existing buildings heritage façade.

The development will be in a ‘U’ shape around a central courtyard, with the ‘leg’ of the ‘U’ fronting Turnbull’s Lane which will consist of a ground floor and four additional storeys.

At present, the building is used as rented domestic accommodation.

“It is the developer´s thinking that these occupants would be re-housed in the new development,” the application states.

The developer is seeking to demolish the existing building as it is of poor quality and has suffered multiple alterations and changes that have led to the developer believing the integrity of the structure is in doubt. The roofs in particular cause concern.

In addition, the developer states that the existing structure and internal arrangements of the building would make any efficient layout not feasible.

One reason for this is because the provision for natural daylight and ventilation are extremely limited even with the light-wells.

The façade of the building on Turnbull’s Lane is listed by the Gibraltar Heritage Trust as an element of Gibraltar´s heritage that should be conserved.

For that reason the developer aims to retain this feature and include it in the development.

The developer is aware that the interior of the building has “some noteworthy decorative elements remaining of the old cinema entrance foyer, such as parts of the stairway, some stylised columns and the ceiling.”

Therefore, the developer will assess if any of these features can be salvaged and incorporated into the proposed entrance lobby.

The proposed development with its additional floors will be set back to mitigate any negative impact at street level or afar caused by the height of the building.
No car parking will be provided for but there will be a dedicated bicycle storage room at ground floor level.

The central courtyard is a feature that the apartments are built around in order to increase any natural light and ventilation into the apartment and to ensure more privacy for the tenants.

The ground floor of the building will have the main entrance, laundry, common facilities, bicycle store, gymnasium and 26 storage units. It will also have five apartments, two studios, two one bedroomed and one two bedroomed.

The first and second floors will have 10 apartments each, consisting of three one bed studio apartments, one two bed studio, four one bed apartments and two apartments with two bedrooms.

The third and fourth level will have nine apartments each, one of which will be a studio and one a two bedroomed apartment, the remaining seven apartments will all have one bedroom.

The pool terrace will be located on the fifth floor, together with five studios, two one bed apartments and two three bed homes.

On the sixth and seventh floor there will be five apartments, one will be a studio, two will have one bedroom and there will be one two and three bed apartment.

This adds up to 58 apartments in total of which there are 13 one bedroomed studios, two two bed studios, 30 one bed apartments, nine two bed and four apartments with three bedrooms.

Building Height
Contained with the Old Town Plan is a policy on tall buildings, which is a building in excess of five floors. However, this policy can be waived if certain criteria are met, including the location and context of the building, the visual impact, the quality of design and the contribution to the character of the Old Town.

“Given its position in secluded Turnbull´s Lane this site is of little visual impact in the overall scheme of things,” the developer said.

“Views from Turnbull’s Lane will not be affected.”

The five floor criteria will not be breached at the Lane frontage.

“The additional two floors will be set back and built in lightweight materials to respect the character of those below and reduce their visual impact. Thereby, too, the character of the Old Town at this location will remain essentially unaffected,” the developer said.

The developer concedes that commercial aspects dictate that a reasonable maximum development of the site be undertaken.

“With the inclusion of the attractive central courtyard feature, the proposed building will therefore rise in a stepped back manner around it towards the rear of the site, this, to a height of eight stories,” the developer said.

“This is only three and a half floors above the escarpment retaining wall, creating a modest rear elevation to the wooded area and is by no means a multi-storey ¨tower block¨, but a carefully considered escalation of height reflecting the natural rise of the rock itself,” the developer added.

The developer also notes that it will be two stories less than the adjacent buildings accessed from Lynch’s Lane.

Previous applications
In a statement sent to the Town Planner on the development, the applicant refers to the past planning history of the site.

It states that “a previous application for planning permission to develop the site was made by Gilman Holdings in 2009. At that time the then land ownership included the adjoining properties of the Nagrani Building in Turnbull´s Lane and the Continental Hotel at No 1 Engineer lane.”

“This was clearly a much larger and more ambitious project than is currently proposed. Nevertheless outline planning permission was granted for it, it is understood in 2011. This is an important relevant event in relation to the present proposal.”

“Before this could be pursued though, outside factors came into play and in the course of these events since then Nagrani was disposed of and Gilman Holdings came under new direction.”

“As such, the current owner is now taking the initiative to develop the two remaining properties, Rialto and Continental, albeit as separate entities,” the statement added.

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