Gibraltar’s historic old town tries to balance renewal and heritage

Historic cities all over the world often struggle to maintain the balance between conservation and preservation and renewal and regeneration.

The island of Gibraltar is no different, other than in the fact that the conservation issues faced all over the world can often be so much more acute and decisions taken more critical due to the land available for development.

Therefore pressure on this resource to keep up with change in terms of improved living standards, flat sizes and living space expectations, infrastructure requirements and upgrading, the need for leisure and commercial spaces, parking and access requirements, can all make the rejuvenation of these historic spaces unattractive.

In the campaign for the renewal and beautification of Gibraltar’s old town, the phrase ‘Urban Renewal’ is often used. This is sometimes mistakenly seen as limited to decorating or repairing old buildings but, whilst essential maintenance cannot be ignored, it actually goes a lot deeper than this. The drive for Urban Renewal is about people.

Gibraltar has seen a distinct lack of investment in areas of its historic city over the years.

The momentum is gathering for change in Gibraltar’s old town, but with that there also comes the need to be alert to unsuitable and unsustainable projects such as the recent loss of an historic bakery building just off the Main Street in favour of the construction of a modern 8 storey hotel. It is this type of project that does not seek to maintain the relationship between Gibraltar’s past and its future that we must work to avoid.

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