19 Oct 2023
Only 6.8Km2, Gibraltar has always been challenged by available land space. With much of the land either steep slopes up the west side of the Rock, or towering cliffs to the north and east, there’s only a limited amount of the full area that can be given over to residential, commercial, leisure and essential facilities crucial for the fast-developing isthmus on the southernmost tip of Europe. The West Side Reclamation project proved to be the answer, with residents and businesses, including Bentley Estate Management finding a home on land which only 50 years ago was under water.
The scarcity of land became increasingly evident as the local population swelled in the 19th and 20th centuries. With limited room to expand on the narrow isthmus connecting the Rock to Spain the need for additional land for residential and industrial development was pressing. The problem prompted the Gibraltar government to explore innovative solutions.
The concept of land reclamation began to take shape in the mid-20th century. The government envisioned the creation of a substantial tract of new land on the west side of the Rock below the town inside the existing harbour area alongside the North Mole pier which points out to the Bay of Gibraltar. This new land would not only address the space crunch, but also stimulate economic growth. In 1969, the ambitious West Side Land Reclamation project was officially launched.
The project involved several complex phases. To begin, vast amounts of sand and rock were dredged from the seabed and transported to the west side of the Rock. The material was meticulously deposited and compacted to gradually extend the shoreline. This process required substantial engineering expertise and equipment, including dredgers, barges and construction machinery.
The project also paid careful attention to environmental conservation. Protective measures were put in place to minimise the impact on Gibraltar’s unique marine ecosystem and safeguard the area’s biodiversity. Over the years, the newly reclaimed land evolved into a thriving ecosystem of its own, coexisting harmoniously with the natural surroundings.
After many years of meticulous planning and extensive labour, the West Side Reclamation project reached completion. The new land today provides space for residential, commercial, and recreational developments, alleviating the pressure on the limited real estate in Gibraltar. Today you’ll find modern housing complexes such as our flagship luxury EuroCity development, shopping centres and leisure facilities as well as the new bustling business centre with offices which house international companies and house-hold names who have taken advantage of the unique business opportunities on the Rock.
A testament to human ingenuity and determination, the West Side Reclamation not only expanded the territory’s physical boundaries, but also opened the door for economic growth through commitment and adaptability. This remarkable engineering feat has not only met the immediate needs of Gibraltar’s residents but has also provided a platform for continued growth and prosperity for years to come, all while maintaining the unique natural beauty of this Mediterranean enclave.