By David Robinson

Plans for a large new marina on the east side of Gibraltar are now a firm prospect with the Gibraltar government currently considering 17 expressions of interest regarding the 16ha reclaimed site. A spokesman for the government told SB: “A number of the bidders include a marina in their proposals.”

Development of the Eastside site dates back to 2003, when Chelsfield International and Multiplex Construction were granted preferred bidder status. At that time, and in the following years, plans for a large marina were promoted but with the downturn nothing came of the plans.

Last June the government re-issued an invitation for expressions of interest, attracting the 17 responses from primarily unknown companies. The spokesman told SB: “The government is now considering the bids submitted and it will probably be some time in January that a preferred bidder shortlist of perhaps seven or eight bidders will be announced.”

One company that is known to be among the 17 is the Armada Group from the UAE. It proposes, as do others, to develop a high-end development of hotels, resort facilities, apartments and sports areas. A marina is also known to be included and Armada included within its plans to construct a breakwater, which would be crucial for any marina development.

Melbourne-based architects Fender Katsalidis produced full plans for the area in 2007, which included a large marina with superyacht berthing available alongside the breakwater.

Gibraltar can certainly do with more large yacht berths, as the Ocean Village and Queensway marinas are close to being full. However, an additional 480m (1,576ft) has become available with the recent opening of the new 700-berth, small-boat marina designed for locally based yachts and fishing craft. The protecting breakwater provides this additional deepwater berthing, allowing the largest superyachts to moor there. The 700 berths comprise 400x6m (20ft) and 300x8m (26ft).