GSD against GBC being relocated to site proposed by Government

The GSD agrees that GBC should be moved from its current South Barracks premises, a building which the corporation has clearly outgrown, but has expressed concern at both the pace of development currently taking place, the suggested location and the lack of sympathy much of this development has with its immediate surroundings. 

Trevor Hammond, spokesman for Planning, Heritage and the Environment, says: "The GSD does not agree GBC should be relocated to the site proposed by Government."

The news that GBC will be moved to a new structure to be constructed on the city walls is just another of the growing examples of Government and Town Planning not taking a holistic view of development but taking projects in isolation, they add. Government’s proposals for Grand Parade and Minister Linares’s statement to the effect that Government will develop every available space lend weight to a growing concern in the community that there is too much development happening too fast.

Hammond said: “There remain many things to be concerned about regarding our environmental management and much to be done, the pace of construction and what developments are approved is of great importance because, whereas in other aspects of environmental management we can make strives to improve, we can improve our air quality, we can increase our use of renewable energy, when it comes to development it will be years before we can reverse any poor decisions, if they can ever be reversed.

"This issue is important because over development in a community is a known cause of stress and stress is directly linked with public health issues ranging from heart disease to depression and if there is a phrase that I hear repeatedly it is that Gibraltar is just one big building site”.

The GSD calls on Government "to pause for thought and take a more sympathetic approach to development. The community has welcomed the open space that was created with Commonwealth Park but other opportunities to exploit the few remaining open space are being squandered, vistas are disappearing, our Heritage is under threat, our community is being hemmed in by construction."


Chief minister Fabian Picardo, in his enthusiastic announcement on Tuesday, said the new building will contain 2 new large television studios, 4 radio studios and a voice-over studio as well as other facilities. The building will be rented for £300,000 per annum with an option to purchase for £7.5 million.

Obviously, if GBC make the move, there will be more expenditure to re-equip etc, with the Government subsidy to GBC having already shot up to £4.5 million per annum (over twice the cost in GSD days)in running costs plus large sums of extra public funds for capital projects, to keep GBC growing because Mr Picardo says he is a 'fan' of GBC.


Meanwhile, the Government says it is very sorry that Trevor Hammond has issues with Development and Planning in Gibraltar. This is quite remarkable because the Opposition is not blameless in the picture that they are now trying to paint. Indeed, they seem to have forgotten that some of the buildings going up now date back to permits, consents or agreement that the GSD themselves entered into when they were in Government.

The Opposition does not like it when we remind them of this inconvenient truth.

It was the GSD that disposed of the land which is today the site of both the Mid-Town and the King’s Wharf Projects. They came to agreements with developers who sought and obtained planning permission accordingly. In those days, Mr Hammond would do well to remember, the Development and Planning Commission met in secret, they did not publish their agenda or their minutes and objectors did not have the right to appear in public before them.

This Government was able to negotiate with the developers of Mid-Town and King’s Wharf in order to lower the height of both these projects, to take part of the plot in order provide an open area to the north of the leisure centre and to ensure public access through a promenade which will run adjacent to the sea. Mr Hammond is free to like or dislike the structures that are going up, but he should bear in mind that what his Government had actually contemplated and agreed would have been much worse from his own perspective.

Moreover, these structures outside the City Walls were in line with the GSD Government’s own Development Plan!

The Government adds: It is perfectly true that building and development causes an inconvenience to people. However, some of this is necessary in order to further the wider social and economic development of Gibraltar. Development is of direct benefit to the economy, produces revenue and allows the Government to invest in order pursue projects like affordable homes, schools and sporting facilities. The new schools at the old St Bernard’s site, the new University, the new small boats marina, the new houses at Mons Calpe Mews, the new houses at Beachview Terraces and the flats for the elderly at Charles Bruzon House would not have been built if one follows Mr Hammond’s philosophy.

Indeed, instead of making vague and general statements, the Opposition should state precisely what developments they are against. Would they have built new schools? Would they have built hundreds of affordable new homes?

Mr Hammond also complains about the proposed new location for GBC. He appears not to know that the structure in question already went to the Development and Planning Commission and obtained planning permission as a private office development. The latest announcement simply involves the rental of office space in that complex. The proposed changes are internal into a studio for GBC.

It is clear that in seeking to be all things to all men, the Opposition have forgotten that they are responsible for some of what they are complaining about today, the Government statement adds.