PRESS RELEASE – POSITION STATEMENT ON NELSON’S VIEW AND OTHER DEVELOPMENTS IN THE SOUTH DISTRICT
The South District Association has been aware all along that there is a need for “affordable” housing in Gibraltar and recognises the fact that such homes need to be built. Notwithstanding this there are number of issues that need to be taken up with the Government relating to affordability, the method by which homes are allocated, the growing number of luxury developments, the lack of social housing for rent, the modernisation of laws governing the private rented housing sector and other matters. The SDA recognises that these issues should form part of well thought out housing and urban development policies. Sadly, as is all too apparent, a coherent and balanced housing and urban development strategy is lacking. A fact that needs to be addressed urgently by a much wider constituency to ensure that pressure is put on the Government to force them to take action.
The Association’s dispute with the Government and OEM International Limited has not been about the need to construct “affordable” homes it has been about the location of these. The SDA continues to oppose the construction of Nelson’s View. The fact that the Rosia Water Tanks have now been almost entirely demolished does not mean that the problems for the developers and the Government have gone away. Their most spectacular achievement to date has been to deny present and future generations of Gibraltarians part of their heritage. They have failed, even, to record the historical, architectural and archaeological importance of the Rosia Water Tanks so that some evidence of their existence survives this lamentable episode in Gibraltar’s history. Monday’s Times Newspaper carried a report suggesting that some of the bricks that were used in the construction of these tanks could have been of Roman origins. This is a fact that such a survey would have been able to record.
Perhaps the Chief Minister might act to reduce concerns being expressed about the future for other parts of this historical site, by immediately listing the Victualling Yard, Parson’s Lodge and the Rosia Mole.
The SDA notes with interest reports appearing in the media stating that “indications are that most of the applicants have shown a higher interest towards Nelson’s View development.” (Gibraltar Chronicle Thursday 13th April 2006). This may be due in large part to the fact that both Cumberland Terrace and Bay Views face the Dockyard that is reportedly known to have problems with containing airborne pollutants and to be the cause of much noise nuisance in the area.
It should be noted, once more, that the Association has never had and does not have any axe to grind with any potential purchaser of homes at Nelson’s View or any other development that is to be built within the South District. The concerns expressed by the SDA and residents of the area have been about exposing the ‘secretive’ and one sided planning process, the fact that there has never been any meaningful consultation with residents of the South District, the way in which property rights are being completely ignored, the total disregard of health and safety concerns particularly in respect to the safe removal of asbestos from the site, the lack of co-operation from Government departments and so on. These issues remain and need to be addressed in the short term, if the current Government wishes to restore its credibility with the electorate before the next elections.
South District Association
PRESS RELEASE – NEIL PARISH VISITS THE ROSIA WATER TANKS
On Good Friday Neil Parish, Conservative MEP for Gibraltar and two of his colleagues, Richard Ashworth, who represents the South East, and Philip Bradbourn, from the West Midlands, visited the Rosia Bay area at the invitation of the South District Association to see at first hand the destruction of the Rosia Water Tanks. Neil Parish expressed his dismay that the Government had gone ahead with the demolition of the Water Tanks in spite of all the representations and appeals that had been made.
As part of the intense campaign of lobbying to save the water tanks, he, as well as, Graham Watson, Liberal and Glyn Ford, Labour MEPs for Gibraltar, wrote to the Chief Minister, earlier this year, appealing to him to reconsider his decision to demolish them. Mr Parish confirmed to members of the South District Association, who were showing him around the area, that the CM has still not replied to his letter.
In the hour that Mr Parish spent familiarising himself with the area, he showed great interest in the planning issues that the Nelson’s View project had exposed. The SDA members present gave Mr Parish and his colleagues the background and history of the Rosia area and answered their many questions. Mr Parish once again expressed the view that European Funding might be available to fund the restoration and beautification of the area and he offered, once again, to assist in the application process. The SDA thanked Mr Parish for the support that he had given the Save the Rosia Tanks Campaign.
South District Association
PRESS RELEASEThe South District Association supports fully the action taken by the owners of the Rosia Cottages in the Supreme Court, as they seek to protect the property rights granted to them under leases entered into with the Government of Gibraltar.In view of the fact that this matter is being dealt with through the Courts, the SDA cannot understand how the Chief Minister is able to support the launch by OEM International Limited of Nelson's View and openly encourage the sale of these homes given that there is a legal action now before the Supreme Court. This action, which has been taken against the Government, could prevent the developers from building on this site altogether.Further it is astounded by reports that appeared in the media recently that the Government has known of this situation since December 2005 and did not address these matters prior to issuing OEM outline planning consent and a full demolition permit. As a result the SDA calls on the Government to suspend the sale of these homes immediately and to halt the demolition of the Water Tanks until the outcome of this legal action is known.Given the new understanding that the Chief Minister has reached about the heritage value of these tanks, it would be perverse to contemplate a situation in which these are demolished but Nelson's View cannot then be built. This would in effect deliver a "double whammy", depriving Gibraltar of a historic site and not providing the planned "affordable" homes to Gibraltarians. It would create a new hole to match the one that now exists at the Theatre Royal. The Government, by suspending the demolition until the outcome of the case is known, could then use the lull in the works to instruct its Heritage Division to undertake a full architectural, historical and archaeological survey on what's left of the Rosia Water Tanks.
SOUTH DISTRICT ASSOCIATION
PRESS RELEASE – IN REPLY TO THE CHIEF MINISTER
WEDNESDAY 5TH APRIL 2006 – for immediate release
The South District Association notes with interest the comments made by the Chief Minister, on GBC’s Newsnight programme on Monday 3rd April 2006, following the launch party of Nelson’s View, Bay Views and Cumberland Terraces.
The Chief Minister has recognised publicly for the first time that there is a significant “heritage” value to the Rosia Water Tanks. This is a small but nonetheless important u-turn given that not so long ago, the SDA recalls, he was being quoted by the media as saying these were just some old water tanks that did not merit saving. Why has he changed his mind now about their heritage value? Perhaps he has realised that all the information presented to him and the appeals made by international heritage organisations (Europa Nostra, ICOMOS-UK, Naval Dockyards Association and others), three MEPs for Gibraltar, eminent local historians and conservationists, 3000 petitioners, numerous members of the public who wrote in and made comments in the media, Gibraltar Heritage Trust and the SDA had some merit. Unfortunately it is too late to save the Rosia Water Tanks now. They are now being demolished and will soon cease to exist, even though that it is not entirely certain that OEM International Limited will be able to get the necessary planning permission and building permits to construct Nelson’s View on that site.
He went on to recognise, as the SDA and the Gibraltar Heritage Trust have said on a number of occasions that he did not realise the extent of their significance. This is somewhat galling given that the SDA was instrumental in highlighting the historical and heritage value of the Water Tanks and made numerous appeals to him to halt the demolition even after it had commenced. It was the work that the SDA did that helped the Gibraltar Heritage Trust to re-evaluate its assessment of the “heritage” value of these Tanks. Subsequently this led them to take action to try to prevent their demolition late last year and early into the New Year. Unfortunately the Chief Minister refused to listen even to their appeals.
The SDA continues to hold to the view that the Rosia Water Tanks could have been saved and that the construction of these ‘affordable’ homes should have been moved to another site. It now cannot understand how the Chief Minister arrived at and can continue to defend what he describes as a ‘balanced’ decision.
At the end of the day, the merits of saving the Water Tanks cannot simply be put down to whether or not those fighting to preserve them had selfish motives or were motivated by “heritage” concerns. As a lawyer it is the facts that count and if he had taken stock of these he would have seen the importance of saving these Water Tanks.
Whilst the Rosia Water Tanks are still partly standing and given that he recognises that these have a “heritage” value he could ask the Heritage Division to undertake a proper architectural, historical or archaeological survey, so that some records of their existence can be held in trust for the people of Gibraltar.
SOUTH DISTRICT ASSOCIATION
South District Association (SDA) supports action on Public Safety Issues
The SDA has taken note of the recent letters and reports that have appeared in the media regarding public safety issues. In particular, the issue that has received the greatest coverage is that of the overhead cranes operating in close proximity to St. Anne’s School. The Association wholeheartedly supports the action parents have taken to highlight their concerns. On one occasion, at least, following an incident during a windy day their children were evacuated from the school playground. Their requests for further reassurances, which are entirely justified, seem to have been met by official indifference and standardised replies, even though they are only trying to ensure that ‘going to school’ does not become a dangerous activity for their children. The SDA sympathises with the plight of the parents as this treatment reflects exactly the attitude that the Association has experienced in relation to its own concerns over the Rosia Tanks/Nelson’s View development.
The SDA believes that given the scale and number of developments that are being announced in
Gibraltar there is an urgent need to re-evaluate the manpower available and the effective independence of the Health and Safety Inspectors under the Factory Inspectorate and the Environmental Agency. These bodies’ primary aim is a duty to protect public health and ensure that all safety legislation is being complied with. When big developers on large budgets start cutting corners to protect profits who gets hurt……can you guess?
Part of the benefits to the local community from the economic boom that these new developments should bring is a modernisation of these agencies, so that all relevant legislation and codes of practice are written into the planning permissions and developers know that if they are caught operating outside of these rules they will be dealt with firmly. If, as the SDA understands, these departments are currently overstretched and understaffed then it is likely that they will be swamped by the pace of change coming in the next few years.
Recently the SDA highlighted the presence of asbestos on the Rosia Tanks site, asked for information to allay residents’ fears and for action to be taken to ensure that the asbestos was safely removed. The Association has to report that the government agencies tasked with protecting public health were evasive, slow to react to complaints or take action and have failed to back any of their bland assurances with any hard facts.
While the SDA understands that some in the community believe that its only intention is to slow down or stop the development at any cost by scaremongering on asbestos, it believes that most people would not condone the teaching of a child that fire burns by allowing the infant to put it’s hand in the flame? Asbestosis is a long-term terminal illness and must be treated with full responsibility and the true gravity it deserves. Accountability from officials is hard to extract in 20-30 years time so we must have confidence that they are doing it right NOW!
Public relations and media campaigns that provide honest fact and real information are an essential part of modern democracy, rumour and misinformation will only keep the population ignorant of the dangers they face and increase the risk of being ‘burnt’.
SOUTH DISTRICT ASSOCIATION
PRESS-RELEASE – 29th March 2006
The lull is now over. New machinery moved in on site this afternoon and demolition works have commenced once again. Tank No 1 which has been intact up until now is in the process of being breached.
The South District Association continues to oppose the destruction of these historic tanks and reiterates its position that the "affordable" homes proposed can be built on another site.
Only yesterday another 19-storey luxury development at Kings Wharf was announced, on yet another site that could have provided "affordable" homes for local families.
SOUTH DISTRICT ASSOCIATION
The South District Association (SDA) is astonished and dismayed at the position adopted by the Chief Minister on GBC’s Newswatch programme broadcast last night in respect to the application for UNESCO World Heritage Status for Gibraltar.
It was this same Government who submitted an application to have ‘Fortress Gibraltar and the Gibraltar Defences’ placed on the UK list to UNESCO for consideration as a World Heritage site. For them to now belittle and bring into question the validity of this process makes no sense whatsoever.
The announcement by the Chief Minister last night that he has made yet another of his ‘balanced’ decisions, namely, to withdraw Gibraltar from the UK list applying for UNESCO World Heritage status is, in the SDA’s opinion, the only way he can now justify the unjustifiable. Having stated in the media on numerous occasions and even, in his recent, Sky News interview that the Rosia Tanks are just some old water tanks with no heritage importance, he cannot now risk the embarrassment of being taken off the UK list precisely because of their destruction. ICOMOS-UK, the organisation evaluating the application for UNESCO World Heritage, included the Victualling Yard and the Water Tanks as being an integral part of the fortifications. They wrote to the CM asking him to halt the demolition pointing out that the sites are now part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List but this appeal has been ignored. The Tentative List text states the ‘sites listed are protected and improved legislation is currently in preparation’.
The SDA would like to ask the Government exactly how they have come to make this so called ‘balanced’ decision on heritage versus ‘affordable’ housing. This decision is bizarre when one considers that it has not commissioned its own Heritage Division to survey and evaluate this site. Surely a balanced decision is reached after studying and evaluating all aspects of this matter not just one. The Association wonders if the silence from the Minister for Heritage and the entire Heritage Division actually speaks volumes. Are they now redundant?
The Chief Minister in his interview last night gave the reason for dropping the application as being the fact that if the whole of Gibraltar is listed then the Government would be having to ask the UN to approve all future developments in Gibraltar. He then went on to admit that that was what he believed would be the case but that he was not actually sure. So are Gibraltar’s fortifications and defences now going to miss out on this unique opportunity to aspire to be listed alongside other World Heritage sites such as the Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramids of Egypt because of what appears to be a poorly researched opinion?
The suggestion proposed by the Chief Minister that in future Gibraltar could reapply for this status for individual buildings is, the SDA believes, not only disingenuous but also quite unrealistic. There is no single site or building that by itself could be put forward for an application for UNESCO World Heritage Status. This is quite apart from the fact that it would take at least another 10 to 15 years to even reach the stage this application is at now, if at all possible.
In the SDA’s opinion, the significant fact here is that ICOMOS-UK who evaluated Gibraltar’s application and submitted it to UNESCO for inclusion in the tentative list of World Heritage Status sites, very much considers the Rosia Tanks as part of the fortifications that comprise ‘Fortress Gibraltar’ and that their demolition therefore endangers the application for World Heritage Status.
The South District Committee
Press Release – 7th March 2006
Gibraltar World Heritage Status Bid withdrawn
The South District Association has taken note that the destruction of the Rosia Water Tanks has commenced and that it may not now be possible to save them all from destruction.
However the SDA wishes to make clear that whilst this unnecessary destruction continues it is stepping up its campaign against the construction of the Nelson’s View project.
The Association is changing the main emphasis and from now will focus on issues of health and safety, environmental and social impact, schooling, traffic congestion and so on. In addition it will support the efforts of residents living in the proximity of the development to have their quality of life protected and their property rights respected.
SOUTH DISTRICT ASSOCIATION
PRESS RELEASE – 20th FEBRUARY 2006
On Saturday morning the South District Association held a spontaneous protest outside the entrance to the Rosia Tanks. This protest was called, at very short notice, in response to the fact that Haymills operatives were seen working on the site, in and around an area where asbestos is known to be present, in flagrant contravention of health and safety standards. The persons working on site where not properly containing the ‘asbestos’ contaminated rubble, handling it correctly or disposing of it safely.
Residents tried to have the work stopped unsuccessfully, even though the Police attended at the site after being asked to investigate what was going on there. A Government Health and Safety Officer was also called, came to the site and inspected work being done. The work was not stopped even though it was felt that safety standards were not being adhered to. Understandably, as the pertinent authorities failed to stop the works, it sparked off a great deal of anger, frustration and, in particular, concern that the safety of residents and their families were being put at risk unnecessarily.
During the course of the morning, the Minister for Social Affairs’ car, The Hon Mrs Yvette del Agua, attempted to exit onto the main road out of Rosia Dale, but this was blocked by a number of people present at the protest who were facing Rosia Parade. Police Officers, who were at the scene, started to clear a way through and at the same time, those present, realising that it was a Government Minister, starting shouting slogans directed at her. As a member of the Government people wanted to let her see how angry and upset they were that their safety was being compromised.
If members of her family present with her felt in anyway harassed or intimidated, at that time, then the Association apologises unreservedly to them. It was not the intention to frighten or make those with her feel uncomfortable.
The SDA does not expect the Minister to agree with its views as to whether the project should go ahead or not. However it considers that all residents of the area should be aware of the health risk attached to the improper removal and handling of asbestos. At the time this is exactly what was happening on the site. If the Government wishes to proceed to demolish this historic site it should do so implementing the proper procedures as laid down in law.
SOUTH DISTRICT COMMITTEE
FORTRESS OF GIBRALTAR: VICTUALLING TANKS
ICOMOS-UK has written to the Gibraltar Chief Minister, The Hon P R Caruana QC,
to express concern that the demolition of 18th Victualling Tanks at Rosia Harbour has been sanctioned to make space for a block of flats, without it appears adequate justification having being made. There has been no Public Inquiry and no Environmental Impact Assessment to justify why this particular site is needed in the light of its impact on an important part of the early naval facilities in Gibraltar.
These very well preserved tanks are part of an area currently included in the UK Government’s Tentative List of World Heritage sites in the UK. The whole area is described as The Fortress of Gibraltar and was included in the list in 1999. The fortifications, of which the Victualling Yard is a part, are described as being ‘unique and without parallel’ and it is said that ‘the entire complex is unique’.
The Tentative List text states that the ‘sites listed are protected and improved legislation is currently in preparation’. Furthermore it states that as part of the development of the heritage product in Gibraltar, fresh schemes are underway to increase public access to the proposed site and we understand that studies have been undertaken to show the feasibility of making the very large tanks available to the public as an attraction.
Until two years ago ICOMOS-UK was informed that a World Heritage nomination was being progressed. Now we hear part of the site is being demolished.
ICOMOS-UK has asked for confirmation that the demolition work can be halted until a systematic appraisal has been carried out of the impact of the proposed development on this World Heritage Tentative List site, and the key issues debated openly at a Public Inquiry, in line with best practice for development work in areas that are recognised for their historic, architectural and archaeological importance.
20th February 2006
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PRESS RELEASE TUESDAY 14th FEBRUARY 2006 third candle lit vigil that has been called for Wednesday 15th February 2006February 15, 2006 at 2:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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RE: Construction Work at Rosia Water Tanks Site
We have recently received verbal confirmation from your Department that there is asbestos “sheeting” within building No.3 (Old Pump House adjacent to Water Tanks). We therefore request that all the appropriate H&S measures are adhered to and that further investigations are conducted to confirm whether there is also asbestos lagging around any of the pipework (since we are aware that its usage for lagging was common practice).
As you will know, asbestos fibres of any type always represent a risk to health when present amongst dust in the air, but severe risks arise through exposure to fibres of blue or brown asbestos. We would therefore like crystal clear confirmation of the type of asbestos, and amount, that has been found to date on this site.
Your Department has also confirmed that there is a possibility that asbestos might have been used as part of the roof covering material over the tanks themselves. Taking into account the amazing speed all pertinent decisions and permits are being issued, and how works have been conducted so far by the contractors on site with little regard to other Health & Safety issues, as local residents, we therefore request confirmation of exactly what the situation is, that any findings from the bore samples already taken are publicly available to the SDA, and that any asbestos will be handled only by licensed contractors in the proper manner (as opposed to the previous incident with asbestos corrugated sheeting over an out-building on site).
Furthermore, since we believe that asbestos has already been improperly disturbed, removed and disposed of, we request that air sampling is used to check whether fibres are present in the air levels, and if so, whether they represent a significant health hazard.
Thanking you for your attention in this matter.
For and behalf of the
South District Association
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Letter forwarded to Mr. Peter Caruana, Chief Minister from Europa Nostra, the pan European Federation for Cultural HeritageFebruary 10, 2006 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Re: save the Rosia Water Tanks
Dear Chief Minister,
Europa Nostra, the pan European Federation for Cultural Heritage, which is presided
over by HRH the Prince Consort of Denmark, has been informed by its member
organisation Gibraltar Heritage Trust (GHT) and the South District Association (SDA) of
the imminent threat of destruction of the Rosia Water Tanks in Gibraltar, an outstanding
example of late 18th century naval architecture with great historic, cultural and
architectural significance for Gibraltar and for Europe as a whole.
As the voice of the civil society associations concerned with the conservation and
enhancement of cultural heritage throughout Europe, we urge you to use your authority
to postpone the planned works and engage into the necessary process of public
consultation on the development of the Rosia Water Tanks site and the possible
alternative locations for the affordable housing project.
We have been given to understand that the planned apartment building, known as
Nelson’s View, will detract from what remains of the heritage of Rosia Bay. It will
overshadow the Victualling Yard and Parson’s Lodge which won a Europa Nostra
Diploma in 1996 for the careful repair and restoration of the historic fortification. But
most importantly this construction will destroy the unique Rosia Water Tanks, of great
historical and architectural value, as has been underlined by two leading experts on
British Naval History, Dr Colin White, Director of the National Maritime Museum in
Portsmouth and Dr Jonathan Coad, a member of the Europa Nostra Scientific Council
and Vice-President of the Society for Nautical Research.
According to Dr Coad, the Rosia Water Tanks are an important element in the
extraordinary concentration of historic naval and military installations on the Rock of
Gibraltar and should be a key element in any submission that Gibraltar will make for
World Heritage Site status. In addition, if regenerated the Rosia Water Tanks could
benefit the public at large, add to the quality of life of the Gibraltarians and provide a
further attraction for Gibraltar’s many visitors, generating income for many sectors of
Europa Nostra fully appreciates the needs to build affordable housing for families in
Gibraltar but shares the GHT’s view that this should not be done at the expense of the
valuable heritage assets of the Rock, especially if alternative locations do exist. In this
respect we have been informed by the GHT and the SDA that alternative locations for
the development of affordable housing have already been suggested, namely:
Queensway, Windmill Hill, Europa Point, Eastern Beach and Buena Vista Barracks.
n the light of the above we reiterate our appeal to postpone the start of the works and
engage into a proper public consultation process with all parties concerned before a
final decision is taken. This decision should seek to strike the right balance between the
two complementary objectives: to provide affordable housing and to protect Gibraltar’s
Our Scientific Council and Secretariat remain at your full disposal for any further advice
you might wish to obtain.
Sneska Quaedvlieg Mihailovic
Cc: Sir Francis Richards, Governor of Gibraltar
Mr Fabian Vinet, Heritage Minister
Mrs Gisele Sene, Chairperson of the South District Association
The Chairman of the Gibraltar Heritage Trust
Dr Ann Coats, Secretary of the Naval Dockyards Society
Prof Gianni Perbellini, Chairman of the Europa Nostra Scientific Council
Dr Jonathan Coad, Member of the Europa Nostra Scientific Council
South District Association
PO Box 1469
Health & Safety Inspector
Ministry of Employment
Unit 76 Harbour’s Walk
The New Harbours
Friday 10th February 2006
RE: Construction Work at Rosia Water Tanks Site
During the past couple of weeks works have been going on the aforementioned site. Three to four men have
been working on the drilling, and another team of approximately 3-4 men have been working on the demolition
of various walls on an ‘on and off” basis. During this time, various residents have seen on repeated occasions,
some of these men urinating within and around the site. This is a disgusting habit, and surely, these men should
be provided with adequate facilities for this purpose. The fact that there are no WC facilities on site more than
confirms this disgusting and unhygienic behaviour.
However, (as shown in the photographs provided), some of the site operatives are not wearing the appropriate
safety headgear either. This is the case at all times, and the photographs show that it even occurs when the
operatives are watching the lifting of heavy drilling bore rods from extremely close proximity.
Furthermore, there are no warning signs outside the site, even when machinery is at times blocking the roads.
Up until a few days ago, a 75 mm water hose was laid completely across the roadway (used to provide salt
water from a fire hydrant) again without any warning signs whatsoever. This was obviously dangerous,
especially for mopeds and bicycles, because upon complaint to the Police, this dangerous practice has ceased.
We therefore find it very surprising, that your Department is allowing all of these Health and Safety issues to
go completely unchallenged. We trust that due diligence will be exercised on this particular site as is the case
on any other in Gibraltar.
Gigi Sene (Chairperson)
South District Association