GIBRALTAR has remained defiant against the Spanish government as it pushes on with its €300 million plan Victoria Keys development, risking diplomatic tension.

The group of investors at the heart of the project, Harbor Developments Limited, has announced that it will begin work again on the project now that the worst of the pandemic appears to be over.

The Victoria Keys development is centered around a plan to reclaim 130,000 square metres of land using soil and construction waste on the east side of the territory.

The new plot will house more than 1,500 apartments and homes plus numerous commercial units and potentially a hotel.

Gibraltar’s decision to restart the project, previously halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, has angered the Spanish government as they believe the waters surrounding the rock belongs to them.

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Artists impression of the new Victoria Keys development (HM Government of Gibraltar)

As part of the Utrecht Treaty of 1713, Spain claims that it only applied to the land, and that the waters remain Spanish property, with Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya going as far as to say that the treaty only applied to certain areas of Gibraltar.

However Gibraltar disagrees, and along with the British government, they claim that it owns both the land and the surrounding waters, leaving it free to develop at will.

The aim of the project is to help rectify the regions critical shortage of housing, an issue that is expected to increase by the Gibraltar government as it sits in an enviable position of having a fully vaccinated population.

“Projects like this encourage and facilitate these relocations and ensure that new companies wishing to move to Gibraltar can get accommodation for themselves and their workers.” said Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo.

“And most importantly, it also offers more houses to local residents, a demand that has proven to be insatiable given the popularity of the most recent private developments.”

Pedro Sanchez’s government however has condemned the plans, and has vowed to use ‘any legal means necessary’ to prevent the development going ahead.

Victoria Keys received a government loan of €42 million last week, in addition to the €230 million in private funds that it is expected to cost.

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