By David Robinson

After three planning committee meetings, the £7-10m project to develop 10 new stern-to superyacht berths and 102 short-stay and rental apartments at Gibraltar’s Ocean Village Marina has gained approval. After deferrals in April and May, the Gibraltar Development & Planning Commission agreed to the scheme yesterday.

The new project will significantly boost Gibraltar’s superyacht berthing facilities and cater for yachts up to around 60m (197ft). The marina has ambitions of using the new facilities that will take a year or more once work starts to build for home-porting a number of superyachts. The developers now have to conduct further research and provide various traffic, environmental and aeronautical reports, standard procedure at this stage of the planning process.

Director of Ocean Village, Neil Crawford, says: “Of course we’re delighted at the news. It’s been a long road for us since December 2014, when the plans were submitted, and the project has generated a lot of interest in the form of overwhelming support, which outnumbered the occasional strong objection. This morning’s DPC meeting was well-attended and dedicated solely to our planning application – we came away with the right result, not only for us as developers but also for Gibraltar as a superyacht destination. This is a vote of confidence in the future of Gibraltar’s economy and complements the government of Gibraltar’s measures to attract superyachts to the Rock.”

The green light for this project will move Gibraltar a step closer to losing its reputation as just a stop-off for cut-price fuel. It will instead promote Gibraltar as a genuine prospect for long-term berthing in a tax-efficient, VAT-free environment – with all the infrastructure expected from the demanding superyacht industry. Local jobs will be created and Gibraltar will be able to legitimately compete with other superyacht marinas – but with the natural competitive advantage of a strategic geographic location where Mediterranean meets Atlantic.

“Our marina,” Crawford adds, “sees superyachts on a regular basis, but usually just for short periods of time or for fuel stops. Only recently a superyacht fuelled in Gibraltar but then continued up the coast to Puerto Banus, a marina with arguably outdated infrastructure, where the owners spent €300,000 in one shop. Main Street retailers and other Gibraltar businesses will relish being on the receiving end of this kind of investment from the superyacht industry.”

The 10 berths will have secure access, a modern Pier Office to include executive crew lounges with sophisticated data networks, pump-out facilities, significantly improved electricity supplies, Spa-style facilities, as well as storage, workshop and laundry services. The promenade will be enhanced with landscaping and a ‘mirador’ open to the public, while CCTV will be in place to ensure peace of mind for the high-value superyachts’ owners, guests and crew.

The 102 waterside apartments complement the scheme and address a local need for short-stay and rental accommodation. Arranged across three-storey units, with waterways flowing between like a mini Venice, the apartments will enjoy rooftop leisure facilities from pools to play areas.

This is a timely development for Ocean Village Marina, as early next month a three-day maritime conference will be held in Gibraltar at which the marina will be a key sponsor. One of the three days will be devoted to superyachts.