15th April 2019, 20:25
The 60,000 square metre reclamation announced by the government last week would connect to an existing plot at Coaling Island to create 71,500 square metres of land which would be developed “holistically”.
This according to Harbour Developments Limited, a local consortium that has committed to buying 50 percent of the land created.
Speaking to GBC, the consortium of locally based developers confirmed that the arrangement would see a “premium” paid for the 50% of new land. The figure for that purchase has reportedly not yet been agreed.
The Gibraltar Government has said it will finance the reclamation but not the subsequent development: the government would not finance “Victoria Keys”, the developer would.
The Montagu Group, who are part of Harbour Developments Limited, told GBC they were part of a consortium that won a tender to develop Gun Wharf some years back. In the context of the Land Transfers Agreement between the Gibraltar Government and the Ministry of Defence, they were later asked by the previous Chief Minister Peter Caruana if they could give the plot at Gun Wharf back to the Government: it was reportedly considered an important cog in the discussions with the MoD. In exchange for handing back this plot, they got another similarly sized plot with similar characteristics: Coaling Island, measuring 11,500 m2.
The developers say they are working on an “urban scheme” that would see the full 71,500m2 of land developed “holistically”. They told GBC the Westsidereclamation of the late ‘80s, which they were involved with, was developed in an ad hocmanner, “in response to the pressures of the day”. They hope their scheme for Victoria Keys can proactively plan the use of the land created for the next 10-15 years.
They would like to build an elevated podium that would allow all the roads and parking to be “underground” but still above sea level, allowing for a “garden city” with public spaces above. They are hoping the residential properties created there would have “relatively wide appeal”, but they are “not going to be at the lower end of the market” but rather “for people who want to move up the ladder” including young first time buyers.
Work on the Environmental Impact Assessment is under way. They are carrying out tests on the quality of the soil and rubble at the Eastside mound. They are confident they will be able to use it as landfill. Consultations with relevant bodies, like the Port Authority and the MOD,and the Department of the Environment are already underway and will continue as part of the EIA process.
The developers hope to present a formal proposal to the Development and Planning Commission before the end of the year. They expect this to include “imaginative solutions” to the problem of moving the tens of thousands of tonnes of rubble in the Eastside mound to the other side of Gibraltar. Maritime options will be explored, they say.
The rocks GBC has filmed at Coaling Island are reportedly not part of the reclamation; they have been excavated during the works at Lathbury Barracks and are being “stockpiled” in waters off Coaling Island for the time being.
The developers told GBC they are a group of local investors banking on the long term development of the Gibraltar economy.