The latest statement from TG on the planning process suggests that they do not have a clue about the way it used to operate in the past when the GSD was in Government.
The plain fact is that there was no transparency whatsoever before the GSLP/Liberals came into office in 2011. Meetings of the Development and Planning Commission (DPC) were held in secret and the public was shut out of the process. The agenda and the minutes were also shrouded in secrecy and there was no inherent right to appear before the DPC.
The upshot is that after the reforms spearheaded by this administration since 2012, the planning process is the most open and transparent it has ever been in the history of Gibraltar. In line with manifesto commitments, meetings of the Commission now take place in full public view and citizens are entitled to put their views directly to the DPC on planning applications.
In addition to this, both the agenda of the meetings and the minutes and decisions of those meetings are now published online. None of this used to happen before. The live streaming of those meetings has taken the level of transparency further still, because they can now be viewed from anywhere in Gibraltar or indeed from anywhere in the wider world via the internet.
TG does not appear to even know that it was this Government that removed a Minister as Chairman of the Commission, and handed the Chair to the professionals through the Town Planner. Those Ministers who sit on the DPC represent the public who elected them and in so doing represent the wider public interest. In the past, it has been Ministers themselves who have often led the objections to the height, scale and massing of different proposals before the DPC, even the Government’s own projects. Indeed, it with worth recalling that the Government also needs planning approval now for its own developments, which was not the case in the past when the DPC was simply ignored and by-passed.
Therefore, although the comments from Together Gibraltar may be well meaning and well-intended, unfortunately they betray a complete lack of knowledge as to how the planning process operated in the past. In reality, although no system can ever be perfect and there is always room for improvement, the planning process is now light years ahead from what it was in 2011.