Works for the new St. Mary’s First School have commenced and the development is expected to be completed within 2 years. Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar announced the successful conclusion of its contractual arrangements with the developers of the new school. The site of the new school will be at 44 Town Range and 10 Victualling Office Lane, less than 50m from the current school. One of the key challenges in relocating St. Mary’s was identifying a site that was large enough to cater for the growing needs of that catchment area whilst remaining within close proximity of the existing school on Town Range.
The announcement follows years of close and detailed negotiation and consultation between the developer’s team and the school Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher and the Department of Education. This process has meant that the entire HMGoG team involved have contributed to the plans and specifications that were recently signed off.
In line with the approved planning application, the scheme will see a tasteful redevelopment of the site within the town centre that will be built to the highest educational and environmental standards. The school boasts an internal area of over 2,600 sqm for classrooms, sensory rooms, music rooms, library spaces, a double height hall and staff facilities; and almost 1,000 sqm of external area for playgrounds. HMGoG expects that the school will be able to cater for over 300 students. The existing stone façade and random rubble wall facing Town Range will be retained whilst the parking facility opposite the site is expected to be redeveloped to facilitate school drop-off and pick-up.
There is no capital cost for the Government as the building will be rented upon completion.
Minister for Education, the Hon. Professor John Cortes, commented: “I am incredibly proud to have finalised the plans for yet another school as we continue in our path to modernize every aspect of education, including the fabric. Our youth is our future and this project is an investment in them. This is a project that everyone in our community should rightly be proud of. The seeds we sow today as we invest in education will bear wonderful fruit in the future, of that I have no doubt.
“The team at St. Mary’s First School have done an incredible job in balancing their return to school whilst also setting out their collective vision and requirements for this new school. They have taken up the challenge and I know that this effort, led by Jessica Sanguinetti and Charlene Caruana, has involved all the teachers at the school who have all played their part in molding the final plans and specifications. The team at the Department of Education too, Keri Scott and Dympna Holmes, have also put forward an enormous contribution and drawn on their experiences from all the other schools that have been successfully delivered in recent years. I am now looking forward to the works proceeding to schedule and personally opening the new school in 2023.
“The Government was worked hard to ensure that there is no initial cost to the taxpayer, as the building will be rented upon completion. Once the new St Mary’s is delivered, the plan continues to be for the existing Hebrew School to move from its current site on Bomb House Lane to the site of a totally refurbished old St Mary’s in line with our 2019 Manifesto commitment. We will continue to work in consultation with the Managing Board of the Jewish Community towards this goal.”