The Malta Independent 10 December 2018, Monday

Cottonera: intensive commercialization is not in the interest of residents - AD

Wednesday, 21 November 2018, 13:21 Last update: about 19 days ago

Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party said today it has submitted its opinion on the ‘Strategy for Cottonera’ with James Gabarretta, spokesperson on the urban environment for AD, saying that residents and their quality of life should be the central aim of any strategy for the area.

"One however wonders why government felt the need to set up another new entity (The Cottonera Foundation) led by a Labour Member of Parliament when at the same time Government is talking about reform in local councils to strengthen cooperation between councils through strengthening regional councils.

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“Wouldn’t the regional council of which Cottonera will form part be the ideal institution for drawing up an action plan for the region? There is also a local plan for the same area, the Grand Harbour local plan. The strategy unfortunately does not consider the important challenges of our times such as sustainable mobility, climate change and sustainability. The strategy could have been an impetus to transform the Cottonera region to a zero-carbon region. Serious planning for a zero-carbon region encourages innovation, micro industries and social, environmental and cultural rejuvenation,” AD said.

"For us, residents are the most important stakeholders in Cottonera. The strategy, gives the impression that the aim is more and more commercialization of the area, including the commercialization of areas which in the local plan are designated as wooded areas. The challenges of gentrification is not mentioned anywhere in the document. This is a big failure because bad planning can mean that Cottonera residents find themselves living in a Cottonera which they no longer recognize and feel part of. The strategy does not mention the disadvantages of the kind development which it seems to allude to: that in the interest of business rather than residents. A comprehensive strategy would look at all aspects of life, the environment and the social fabric of Cottonera. The strategy is not supposed to be a propaganda document but a document full of information and studied suggestions of what can be done - with all the advantages and disadvantages of various options."

"We note that mobility is a common concern among residents. However, the strategy does not offer any plan in this regard. Cottonera should not become a massive, congested car park. The amount of cars entering Cottonera should be limited and controlled. We need streets that are safe for residents. The area is perfectly suitable for public transport and for streets which are safe for bicycles and electric bicycles. Sea transport from and to Cottonera should be strengthened."

"The concept of Fort Ricasoli as business hub is not clear. While it is important that the fortress - which is abandoned and disappearing into the sea – is regenerated, there is need for an in-depth discussion on a sustainable vision and longterm use of this site. It should not end up full of office blocks and apartments for speculation purposes, as has happened in Smart City. We believe that it is possible to sensibly couple heritage with modern elements and sustainable, zero-carbon facilities, open spaces and community facilities."

In conclusion, James Gabarretta said that AD believes that:

·         The intensive commercialization of Cottonera is not in the residents' interest.

·         The green corridor known as Santa Margerita should be managed according to principles of conservation as a natural area. It should not end up full of kiosks and more concrete. Cultural centres should be base din existing underutilised buildings.

·         The children of Cottonera should not end up as roundabout for more traffic. Traffic into Cottonera should be controlled and reduced.

·         The strategy should focus on sustainable mobility.

·         The need for affordable housing should not be used as an excuse for the floodgates to be opened for property speculation and savage development. The housing policy should focus on practical assistance to improve the conditions and level of existing housing.

 

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