Outline planning permission for the mixed use 19-storey development at Devil’s Tongue Queensway was granted yesterday, with seven members of the Development and Planning Commission giving the project the green light.
One member opposed the scheme and two abstained.
During yesterday’s meeting of the DPC both the applicant, Hepta Limited, and the architect, WSRM Architects, presented the concept and gave details on the inspiration for the design.
Two objectors also addressed the commission via lawyers. These two objectors are business owners on the current site, namely Bahia Bar and the petrol station.
In February this year the initial outline planning permission was deferred to give the developer an opportunity to reconsider its vision and application.
The new outline application addressed some of the concerns that were raised during the February meeting.
Some of these included the reduction in the size with it now being restricted to the footprint of the site currently owned or controlled by the applicant.
It now allows for the vista of the Moorish Castle from Waterport Road.
The massing of the development has been reduced due to its proximity to the City Wall. The entrance and main approach to the building has been re-orientated so that this sits to the north.
During a presentation, the developer said the location was “important development land” and that the height of the building was based on the precedents already set by nearby Ocean Village and Marina Bay.
“Although it is a big building we tried to not make it heavy at the ground level, “ which will be an open area “akin to Convent Garden”.
This will enable people to enjoy the use of the area and the amenities that will be in the building such as cafes.
The DPC also raised concerns about environmental sustainability and the potential impact of the glass façade on migratory birds.
The site is known as the Devil’s Tongue and once formed part of the port.
Awareness was raised to the fact there may be archaeological remains and that a desk based assessment and an archaeological watching brief should be carried out. It was noted by a commission member that any finds should be recorded and exposed if need be.
Another concern was the arches on the ground level and it was suggested that they be removed to make it more open.
Various members called the design, “bold” and “cool” and commended the architect on such a creation.
Many also commended them on the ground floor layout and how open it will be for people while also still retaining a view of the City Wall through it.
Bahia Bar objected as they wish to keep their business open and noted that it had been in the family for over 30 years.
The lawyer representing the bar said that the owner is protected under the tenant and landlord act and is entitled to possession of his premises and is protected by the sale of the land to anyone else for five years. While some correspondence has occurred between the two parties the lawyer called it a “dialogue of death with precious little said.”
He also stated that after the five year period and any subsequent potential court hearings the owner was entitled to have his business re-provided for within the new development. He noted that no provision has been made in the current design.
The five-year period will be up mid 2020.
The other objector manages the petrol station and via their lawyer said the business had been operational for over 40 years. He noted that the developer has not made any plans to replace the petrol station. With this in mind, the lawyer said that people living in the catchment area will no longer be able to be serviced by them not just for petrol but also for goods that are available in the shop. He acknowledged Ramsons is nearby but that the petrol station is open later.
He also noted that Parody tour buses are refuelled at this station and that this could affect the income for them and may result in the loss of jobs.
Town Planning Assessment
The town planning assessment noted that the developer took on board previous comments and commented that it was an interesting design. It also noted that landscaping both hard and soft would have to be developed further at the next stage.
The assessment does not overlook the value of the existing businesses but noted that the overall picture has to be looked at and that the development was a positive to the area.
It concluded that “it does have benefits to Gibraltar as a whole”.
A number of issues relating to parking were raised.
The 19-storey development will have 20 one bed apartments, 25 two bed apartments, 22 three bed apartments, 15 four bed apartments, four five bed apartments, one four bed duplex and one five bed duplex. Giving a total of 88 units.
The development starts off at 02 Basement level where together with 01 basement level there will be car parking spaces.
On the ground and first floors there will be retail and commercial spaces.
Levels two, three, four, five and six will be for offices and the remaining 10 levels will be residential.