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Report urges protection for Rock’s ‘scenic heritage’

Preserving Gibraltar’s iconic views from overdevelopment is the subject of a recently published report which also calls for a new planning scheme to address the issue.

The Gibraltar Heritage Trust, in collaboration with the Environmental Safety Group and Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society, is proposing a new scheme to safeguard Gibraltar’s “scenic heritage”.

Views of the Moorish Castle and other historic landmarks and skyline features in Gibraltar are not currently protected by planning policy or legislation.

The three organisations are now working together to bring this issue into the public domain and propose a mode of application to protect the Rock’s views and vistas.

A working model has been researched which the collaborators believe could be applied in Gibraltar - the ‘St. Paul’s Heights’ policy in force in the City of London since 1938. A case study of the Moorish Castle is presented using that cited model.

The document draws attention to the current lack of policy and enforcement mechanisms to protect strategic views and vistas in Gibraltar.

“The protection of iconic and highly significant features that make Gibraltar uniquely recognisable, either internationally or locally, is paramount, in order to preserve what makes us who we are and what we are,” the organisations state in the report.

“It is not enough to preserve and maintain the fabric of those features, it is imperative that they remain accessible in a form commensurate with their standing and status in our history and culture.”

The Rock of Gibraltar provides steep inclines and escarpments which naturally aid the views of Moorish Castle and the old citadel from the lower new town areas and the sea.

“In this we have an advantage,” the report states.

“However, the building of tall structures outside the historic city walls and the massing of these structures are causing obstruction to these iconic views within our own living environment and threaten to make our hitherto unique home into a place like any other place.”

The status of the Rock of Gibraltar as a heritage site of world renown is indisputable, the report states, adding that the Rock has always stood for stability and is a symbol of endurance the world over.

But, the report’s authors add, the Gibraltarians of today stand at a crossroads in time.

“We can take the path of disregard of what has brought us here and what has endured or we can choose to take the path of balance - respectful development progress and an enhanced legacy to our children.”

“There is no need to forego our history and culture in our effort to belong and flourish in the 21st Century; rather we should take stock of what is really important to us.”

“What will we pass on to our children and grandchildren? How will they judge our role as custodians of our unique Gibraltarian identity, culture, history and way of life?”

Photo by DM Parody