Exasperated members of the Development and Planning Commission subjected the Minister for Sport, Steven Linares, to a grilling yesterday over the student accommodation blocks at Europa Point, which are currently under construction.
“If no changes can be made, why bring it to DPC?” was one of the questions posed.
Members raised a variety of concerns they have regarding the development, which is well under construction and according to Mr Linares no changes can be made to the blocks of apartments.
The town planners stated it felt that the height of the building and its scale would be “overbearing on the surrounding area and will dwarf the properties nearby”.
Some members agreed and stated that it would set a “dangerous precedent for large scale development in the area.”
One member said that the Europa Stadium had to go through many processes but that this project does not have to do so “just because it is student accommodation”.
Mr Linares stated that the development cannot be made smaller “because it is needed for the university”.
He conceded that it will also be used for short term lets for non-students while the university builds up the number of students enrolled in courses, but that the aim was to have all apartments let out to students.
The Department of Environment also expressed its concern via the Town Planner and stated that the development should be no higher than Europa Road.
Technical Services warned about the nearby slopes and the traffic commission raised its apprehension regarding the exit of the development onto Knightley Way and the proximity of this to the tunnel.
The Ministry for Heritage and the Heritage Trust asked for a desk based assessment and an archaeological watching brief to be carried out.
However, as work has already commenced Claire Montado, who represents the trust, said that it was too late for this to happen.
Mr Linares stated that both in fact did happen and they were carried out by the Gibraltar Museum.
Mrs Montado told him that the Ministry for Heritage is under the impression no one had been on site.
Mr Linares said “they [his staff] assured him it was all done.”
On landscaping and the plans submitted for this, the DPC was told by expert and director of the Botanica Gardens Dr Keith Bensusan that it “looks pretty and lush but none of it is likely to survive.”
He added: “I cannot see tree surviving there,” and “none will live”.
On the possibility of having low growth plants, he told the commission “they will die eventually and they will be taken over by other vegetation.”
The development, with 144 rooms, will initially be used to house people during the Island Games next year before it will be used for student accommodation.
29/37 Engineer Lane (Ex- Risso Bakery)
Outline planning permission was granted for the development of a major project at 29/37 Engineer Lane, which will see the construction of a serviced apartment building with commercial units.
In January, this year approval was given to the scheme with some conditions stipulated by the DPC.
The vast majority of these conditions were addressed and dealt with.
However, the request by the DPC to set back the fifth floor was not and the commission asked the developer to once again re consider this before filing for full planning permission.
It also asked the developer to reconsider the façade and to return with one that was more in keeping with the streetscape of the area.
A major concern previously was the issue of bins. The developer will provide 17 bins for public use outside the building and four inside the building for residents.
Approval was given for full planning application for the proposed construction of a new residential block at Quay 31, King’s Wharf.
The plans include a single storey podium with private parking, landscaping and a public promenade along the Marina frontage.
It was asked that the developer carry out studies regarding the impact, if any, there would be on the amount of sun Commonwealth Park would be exposed to.
This includes the impact on the existing plants and pond life and heat lost by park users during winter.
The study needs to be carried out as a condition of the permit.
The development at 5-9 Shackleton Road, ‘The Hub’, gained full planning permission.
1 Corral Road
Full planning permission for a 120 bedroomed ‘Indigo’ hotel at 1 Corral Road was granted yesterday.
When outline planning permission was granted the commission asked the developer to reconsider the building’s pre cast concrete panels.
The developer did this and the commission all agreed it was an improvement.
Some enhancements since outline permission included landscaping and a terrace that wraps around on the eighth floor.
The commission also noted that as NatWest will be leaving the building, a reception area and café bar will now be located in its place.
The plans for South Jumpers Bastion, which will become GBC’s new premises, were discussed, with the Heritage Trust keeping its objection to a development that is two storeys on the city walls.
It further noted that the bastion was a listed monument.
“We objected when it was a private one [application], now it is Government we still object,” said Mrs Montado.
The full planning application has seen the development increase by two metres and the inclusion of wooden panels in the façade to break it up, an addition that was welcomed by the Town Planner.
It recommended that the parameter terrace is open to the public during working hours and that more parking for motorbikes and bicycles is provided for.