The GSD has urged the Gibraltar Government to “listen to the people” and scrap its plans to construct an “ugly monstrosity” on the Grand Parade site.
In doing so, the GSD also outlined alternative plans for the site which include three levels of underground parking with open space on top at ‘no cost to the Government’.
The GSD has joined the likes of the Environmental Safety Group, the Heritage Trust, the Development and Planning Commission and GOHNS in criticising the Government’s current proposals of an above ground multi-storey car park.
At a press conference at GSD headquarters yesterday, Opposition Leader Roy Clinton and Trevor Hammond explained that the party had concerns about the project as soon as it was announced but opted to investigate the matter before publically objecting to it.
Mr Hammond presented the alternative plans, which had been filed before the DPC a number of years ago, to reporters and urged the public to rally behind the project.
In doing so, he described the Government’s record on planning as “not very good” highlighting the “National stadium fiasco” which he said was a “gross planning error”.
The plans presented by the GSD do not affect the area as it exists at the moment and leaves the community with the opportunity to do something with the space in the future instead of tying generations into another “ugly car park”, Mr Hammond said.
These plans include three levels of underground parking along with the possibility of garages for local residents, and an open area on top as per the current situation.
Mr Hammond added that geological surveys have been conducted on the area and there are no known obstacles to prevent the project from proceeding.
Moreover, whilst the Government’s plans for the site will accommodate 900 vehicles, the plans presented by the GSD provide for 1,400 parking spaces.
Regarding the financing of the project, Mr Clinton flagged a recent question and answer session of Parliament in which the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, said the prospect of building underground was not “financially viable”.
Mr Clinton told reporters that the GSD had made contact with the original developers of the proposed plans and requested to see their business plan for the development of the site.
The numbers, he said, are “slightly out-of-date” but “conceptionally they still hold water”.
“This project wouldn’t actually cost the government a penny,” he said explaining that the developers would be funding the project.
He drew comparisons between the project and the Small Boats Marina, which at a cost of £27 million he said “was not economically viable and yet they built it”.
In respect of criticism from environmental groups that the Government is encouraging greater vehicle ownership through this scheme, Mr Hammond said he understood their concerns but indicated that this needed to be weighed against Gibraltar’s ‘parking problem’.
“Other means can be looked at and should be looked at on how to curb or discourage multiple vehicle ownership,” he said.
Mr Hammond added: “We can really do something with that area that does not involve building upwards and blighting the vistas which would be a great shame and once done irreversible for many years to come.”