Thursday, February 24, 2005

Garcia insists Government undersold mid-town land

Dr Joseph Garcia, Opposition, has hit back at Government saying their attack on him over his views on the Mid-Town project completely vindicates the accusation he made in the first place that they have undersold the site.

The rest of the Government statement is nothing more than a cheap and transparent attempt to confuse and mislead public opinion," he said "welcoming the fact that as a result of our statement, it has now been revealed that 7600 square metres is the area of land that will be made available to the developer and that this land has been sold for £66 a square metre more than the figure quoted by us as paid for a development in the vicinity.

Rather than this undermining the calculations, it shows how accurate they are, he said.

Dr Garcia had quoted a case where a developer paid £1250 a square metre for private land as illustrative of the value of land in the vicinity of the Mid-Town project.

The Government is clearly not aware that when I mentioned the £1250 a square metre paid for private land, this was actually for a one storey development, said Dr Garcia.

Government, said Dr Garcia, have said that development land is not valued on the basis of its area, but rather on the basis of the density of the construction, which is the number of floors that can be put in a particular area of land. In that event, the land has been grossly undervalued by the Government given that one of the two towers that is going to be built on this land is about thirty floors high and therefore the floor area in the construction is many times the 7600 square metres of the site, he said.

"According to the Government's own criteria of value by density and a rate per square metre on the construction of the two towers, the value of the site should have been even greater than what the Opposition suggested. In other words, the value of the site is even more using the density valuation preferred by the Government than it was with the area valuation used by the Opposition. This means that they have undersold the site by even more," he said adding that Minister for Trade and Industry Joe Holliday did not have a clue about the valuation formula used by his own Government.

It is obvious that the Government do not know what they are talking about. They have also been very silent on the other issues raised. The first is the lack of an updated Gibraltar Development Plan, the last one of which dates back to 1991. The second issue is the scale of the project and its heritage and environmental implications. Thirdly the Government have said nothing of their long standing policy priority for luxury housing for outsiders over low-cost accommodation for Gibraltarians. These are the issues that they are trying to cover up, said Dr Garcia.

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