WORK on opening a former military home and its gardens to the public is getting underway.
The renovation of The Mount into an open green area for the south district was promised by the GSLP/Liberals before last October’s election.
With the tender for the clearing of vegetation at the site on Europa Road being awarded, the first stage of works can commence.
“The Mount will be developed into a Commonwealth Park with woodland in the south of Gibraltar,” said the Government.
“These preparatory works are necessary in order to determine the condition of the structures, the paths and the walls.”
Years of neglect have allowed the gardens of the main building to become overgrown with plants, creating the need for it to be ordered out.
The works will include the cutting back of vegetation along paths and removal of undergrowth along terraced areas.
Dead trees will be removed, while mature trees will have creepers removed.
The squash court will be taken to ground level and waste material removed.
The last of a number of attempts to get the The Mount developed commercially was in 2015.
In the end, the Government was not satisfied that any of the proposals looked after the heritage and environment in a sensitive way.
“Instead, after discussions with a philanthropic entity, The Mount is to be opened out to the people of Gibraltar and developed into a leisure area with a research and discovery park,” explained No.6 Convent Place.
“The plans make provision for an adventure park, padel tennis and a discovery and events centre. They also include a small camping area for overnight stays.”
Tying the knot
As part of the plans, the civil wedding registry will be located at the gate-house.
This will allow civil marriages can be celebrated there followed by a reception in the events hall at the same site.
“The Government is very pleased to see that preparatory works are about to start at The Mount,” said Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia, responsible for the project.
“The Mount was owned by the Ministry of Defence for very many years and the people of Gibraltar were ordinarily not allowed access into the grounds.
“It made no sense to allow the site to become a private residential community from which the public could be denied access once again.
“Instead we will open out the area to the people of Gibraltar in full consultation with stakeholders.”
Until 1990 when the Cold War ended and the military left the Rock, around half of the land area of Gibraltar was MoD property.
The work will be carried out with the Department of the Environment in a similar to the Northern Defences renovation.
“It would be a mistake to try to do everything at once,” concluded Garcia.
“In the same way as in the Northern Defences, we intend to progress the work in phases so we emerge with a final product of which the people of Gibraltar can be proud.
“This will be a show-piece for ‘Green Gibraltar’.”