The Malta Independent 20 November 2018, Tuesday

NGOs to meet and decide on St George’s Bay tower appeal plans

Jeremy Micallef Wednesday, 3 October 2018, 15:01 Last update: about 3 months ago

NGOs and other stakeholders are to work on getting an accurate monetary estimate for the appeal against the controversial approval of the db Group’s 37-storey St George’s Bay tower, activist Andre Callus told The Malta Independent.

This meeting follows a series of controversies catalyzed by the vote by the Planning Authority (PA) which saw the plans for the db Group’s 300 million City Centre project on the old ITS site be approved by a vote of 10 votes to 4. The appeal was estimated to cost approximately €20,000 meaning that each one of the 4,000 objectors would theoretically have to fork out €5 each if that amount stands.

ADVERTISEMENT

Callus, a member of Moviment Graffiti, one of the more vocal groups that came out against the project, explained that they “don’t have an accurate estimate right now”, which is one of the issues that will be raised during Wednesday’s meeting with other organizations.

“What we know for sure is that it will cost 3,500 to lodge the appeal, after that we have to see what other fees there will be for resources, professionals, and if anyone will be willing to work pro-bono – it depends on a lot of factors.”

The past week saw a series of other controversies that arose with regards to Jacqueline Gili being flown to Malta by private jet on the taxpayer’s dime, closely followed by alleged conflicts of interest concerning other board members Matthew Pace and Clayton Bartolo, which they deny.

The project also saw a massive number of objections, reaching over 4,000 in total, from the public, local councils, and NGOs. Objections were based on a number of reasons, including an insufficient amount open spaces, fragmented development as a result of lack of a comprehensive master plan for the area as well as a pending investigation on the transfer of the site covered by the application. Other arguments also include the potential detrimental visual impact, alleged misuse of the hotel height limitation adjustment policy, the traffic impact of the project, the increased pollution as a result of the project, the proximity of high-rise development to residential areas, and many others.

Criticism also came from the Office of the Prime Minister, who when asked to comment on the decision by the PA to use a private jet to fly in one board member ascertained that “the PA took this decision without informing the government”, and disagreed with the line of action taken. The Opposition Leader, Adrian Delia, has called for an inquiry to establish what led the PA to take such a step.

The last time an appeal of comparable scale took place was back in 2016 when appellants went up against the Quad Towers development and the Townsquare development in Mriehel and Sliema respectively. The latter was annulled whilst the former was unsuccessful.

  • don't miss