The Malta Independent 21 September 2018, Friday

TMID Editorial: Highrise buildings - Fresh calls for a master plan

Monday, 3 September 2018, 10:45 Last update: about 18 days ago

Fresh calls for some form of Mriehel master plan were made last week by members of the Planning Board, and serve not only as a precaution for the need to identify and limit which areas can see what kind of development, but also as a reminder of the Planning Authority’s failure to bring forward an acceptable Paceville master plan.

During the Planning Board’s evaluation for a lateral extension to the Quad Business Towers in Mriehel,  ERA Chairman Victor Asciak highlighted the need for a master plan for the Mriehel area, similar to what was previously proposed for Paceville, to see how projects effect the skyline. He said that this should be part of the Planning Authority’s responsibility, highlighting the need for everything to be seen holistically. PN MP Marthese Portelli who sits on the board agreed with Asciak that the PA should be proactive, as this would even help developers know what is and what is not possible. The NGO’s representative on the board as well PL representative Clayton Bartolo also supported this idea.

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This means that an Mriehel master plan has support of both major political parties. Such a plan could help diminish the risk of cowboy development, with one high rise overshadowing another without any plan in place on the overall result, both in terms of visual impact, but also in terms of infrastructure and the effects on the health and mental state of the residents living in those areas.

The master plan would need to be very different from what was presented for Paceville however. The First version of the Paceville master plan was nothing less that pandering to developers, with the residents not even being taken into consideration. It was an insult to all those who live in the area, as well as to some of the landowners.

That version was put aside, yet the PA has not come forth with a second version, thus far leaving the area open to severe development without a holistic plan. Any potential chaos as a result, in terms of infrastructural failure, severe building density etc. will be the PA and government’s fault.

In October 2017, Planning Authority Executive Chairman Johann Buttigieg told the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry that the tender for the second draft of the Paceville Masterplan will be presented “very shortly”. He said that they would go to the Director of Contracts and wait for their feedback before publishing it.

Last July, nine months later, Buttigieg told this newsroom:“We are still undergoing discussions with the Department of Contracts. At this stage, we might as well wait for the local plan review rather than having a master plan for Paceville.”

The length of time being taken for this master plan to be issued for public consultation, after the authority’s clear failure on the first attempt, is a dangerous game whereby development in the now high-rise jungle that Sliema and St Julian’s are becoming has limited holistic scope.

An Mriehel master plan is needed, a Paceville and Sliema master plan is needed, and so is a national master plan. These plans must put residents first, and should not pander to developers or backers of either party.

 

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