For developers who come by an old and dilapidated property, the age-old question is whether to demolish and build something new on site, or refurbish and retrofit.
Unfortunately, high property values and geographical constraints in Gibraltar often give way to the former. Whether the decision is taken to demolish a building completely or retain its facade and gut it internally (which has become a popular option near Gibraltar's Main Street), the result is an unprecedented loss of heritage, the extent of which will likely only be appreciated by future generations when the materials and workmanship used within these buildings has become a rarity.
Decisions to demolish are often flanked by excuses to the tone of 'it's beyond repair' or 'it is the only way to make the development viable'. The latter excuse usually means - it is the best way to make the highest short term financial return.
However, it does not have to be this way. Many old buildings have been sympathetically restored and retrofitted locally and there is a growing wave of sympathetic development. Given the economic, environmental and historic advantages, I would say it is a step in the right direction!
Originally published 20 May 2020
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