• Search
    Latest News
  • On Questions of Planning and Town Area 271014

    The ESG was recently quoted in a Chronicle article writing about how Tall Buildings pose tough questions for Town Planners.  (see Monday edition 27th October)

    This came about after the last DPC (Development and Planning Commission) meeting where an application was approved for a developer to restore two historic buildings on Town Range with the further permission to construct several more storeys above them. Reasoning came from the need for costs to be generated in order to be able to do these restorations successfully.

    However, many feel, including the ESG, that the current Development Plan is granting permission outside the city walls for high rise buildings because it takes the pressure out of building these within the old town. Still, although a number of buildings have been and are being restored pretty much to their original size, a few have got through the net with Town Range, following the Risso Bakery fiasco. Care must be taken to control these anomalies and hopefully prevent others from suffering similar fate.

    The key points made by the ESG to the media when asked are as follows:-

    The situation is a complex one  and there is a need for a proper public debate with all stakeholders  to ensure that the issue is tackled properly.

    The ESG believes there are many examples of good heritage management around us today, Heritage Trust Main Guard, Police Barracks project, cleaning up of the main wall for walking and pedestrians and the work also at Wellington Front, as well as other important historic buildings.

    However, the failure by our community and the planning system to save Risso Bakery raises concerns. Yes, there were structural and safety issues with the bakery but it was clear there were also cost implications of working around its preservation. This building was important to many, in a prominent part of town, and hence integral part of the town landscape, and could be replaced by an unattractive, large building of little architectural merit. Lets hope not.
    This week another project was approved, this time for the sensitive restoration of two original and protected buildings at Town Range. The applicant presented plans that outlined the entire project that was to include a further 5 or 6 storeys to be added above the restored buildings in order to generate enough cash to carry out restoration.
    Once again we face the quandary of either leaving such historic buildings untouched and left to deteriorate completely, or agreeing to allow their restoration with the price of considerable new build factored into the equation, the latter also radically altering our town landscape.
    Its also difficult to expect private building owners to provide low cost housing, due to rent controls, and then be expected to invest huge amounts of money in the maintenance of old buildings. If this continues within a few years there will be few old buildings left to protect, nor will there be any low cost rental of pre war houses available.This means that it makes economic sense for them to let the building fall into such a state of neglect and disrepair that it makes them unlivable. Next they are sold for huge amounts of money to private developers who then put a lot of pressure to develop them at DPC and make a profit at the cost of the loss of our heritage.
    This issue needs to be addressed in a holistic manner by those working on Gibraltar’s Heritage interests and hopefully with the power to do something about it.