Aquarium by Rosia Bay receives outline planning permission from DPC

An aquarium on the site of Victualling Yard storehouse in Rosia Bay has received outline planning permission.

The Development and Planning Commission today heard of plans to restore the historic building to accommodate the oceanic display and research centre.

Many elements of the project were questioned by members of the Commission, with the Chairman using his casting vote to get the project approved.

A local businessman in partnership with an Australian specialist firm, intends to set up a public aquarium at one of Gibraltar’s most historic sites, the Victualling Yard storehouse in Rosia Bay.

The idea is to showcase marine life to locals and tourists and to become a centre of Research and conservation, in partnership with educational and scientific establishments.

The Developer says it will seek to preserve the historic nature of the building while creating a captivating and modern space for visitors.

The plan is to restore the first floor with minimal interventions and using historically accurate materials, and the addition of a second floor will provide educational and research facilities, a sea-view restaurant, as well as laboratories and classrooms.

The developer emphasized the reversibility of alterations in respecting the historic building.

This all seemed to tick the right boxes with the Heritage trust who said the project could provide a unique opportunity to tell the story of the historic site to a wider and new audience.

Commission members concluded that “more work needed to be done” on the project and that “little information” was available at this stage.

With the Heritage Minister interested in hearing more about the intended partnerships with universities and scientific institutions.

Others wondered if the project was viable and questioned how it it could work as part of Gibraltar’s wider tourist product.

The Victualling Yard complex was completed in 1812 and formed part of the Royal Navy’s base.

It originally contained stores of food, water and clothing to supply the visiting fleets.

It remained in use until the 80s, and was in the hands of the MOD until 2004. IN 2006 the Gibraltar Government demolished the unique water tanks to make way for housing.

In later years the complex has seen little activity. It currently houses the dog kennels which would continue to use the site if the Aquarium goes ahead.

At the next appearance, developers will be seeking full planning permission. If secured, the Aquairum could bring a new lease of life into one of Gibraltar’s most historic buildings.

Aquarium by Rosia Bay receives outline planning permission from DPC