The Malta Independent 22 August 2019, Thursday

Updated: MEPA approves Gzira private lido, extension to Marfa hotel and new hospital in Bulebel

Neil Camilleri Thursday, 15 January 2015, 16:15 Last update: about 6 years ago

The planning authority board today approved the Outline Development Permit for the proposed Gzira waterfront Lido – a joint project between four hotels – with only one board member voting against.

The project, which is being undertaken by the Bayview, Kennedy Nova, 115 The Strand and The Waterfront hotels, will be built on a stretch of reclaimed land. It will include a pool area, two restaurant areas, a 300-metre square playground and an exhibition area. A 2-metre wide passageway will be built along the seaward side of the project.

The original application was filed in 2006 but the project has since been downscaled.

Project architect Edwin Mintoff said the project has to be built on reclaimed land because no space is available on the existing promenade, which will not be encroached.

The developer said a traffic impact assessment concluded that the increase in pedestrians crossing the road to access the site could interrupt traffic flow. Crossing time has to be increased by six seconds.

An officer from the planning directorate said a complaint by the Local Council on the visual impact of the project was withdrawn. There were a number of other objections, mainly on access to the public and fishermen to the shoreline. The project detail, she noted, said that Gzira residents will enjoy free access to the pool facilities. The Malta Tourism Authority said the project is beneficial to the hotels and the tourism sector in general but environmental NGO Din l-Art Helwa objected because the project would only benefit the hotels and would have a negative visual impact. A fishermen’s association had also objected because the lido would take up a number of berthing spaces.

The planning directorate said it had no objections to the proposed lido as long as a number of conditions were respected. These included the signing of a contract between the four hotels to set up a company to manage the restaurants. The building footprint and height should not be exceeded and services should not be visible. It also requested a construction management plan, a detailed landscaping plan and details on the relocation of moorings.

A representative of the Gzira Fishermen’s Association said 25 tenders would be lost if the project was approved. 125 would be lost because of the lido and adjacent Yacht Yard project. He asked if the developer would allow fishermen to moor their boats alongside the outer seawall. Dr Mintoff said the lost mooring spaces would be relocated, as agreed with Transport Malta but Mr Cauchi insisted that there was no space to do so in the already cramped conditions. The decision to allow boats to moor alongside the development could only be taken by TM, Dr Mintoff said.

Professor Victor Axiak, a MEPA board member, asked if the project would lead to similar application requests by other hotels in the area. MEPA Chairman Vince Cassar said future applications could be refused if the authority felt that the area was over developed and CEO Johann Buttigieg said existing projects would be taken into account when and if new applications were filed.

At one point it was claimed by another board member that giving free access to Gzira residents only could lead to discrimination. The developer said the matter had been discussed with the Gzira Local Council and both parties had agreed on a membership system. Preference was being given to Gzira residents because they will be affected the most by this project. However, board member Veronique Dalli said giving free access to all Gzira residents was unrealistic. The MEPA Chairman said he wanted to listen to the council’s version but no representative was present.

Extension of Riviera Resort Hotel

Another project given the MEPA green light was the extension to the Riviera Resort Hotel in Marfa.

The development works include the construction of a recessed floor on the southern wing of the hotel and the extension to the current  recessed floor at northern wing of the hotel. Through these extension works the hotel’s room capacity will increase from 242 to 293 rooms.

Approved works also include the reconstruction of a  new entrance/reception area to the hotel, an extension of the restaurant, a sundeck with a splash pool on the roof, the pedestrianization and landscaping of the public seafront promenade and the construction and landscaping of a public parking area.

A detailed Environment Impact Assessment screening exercise which was carried out for this planning application revealed that the proposal was not going to have any significant negative impacts.

For this project, the Board imposed a planning contribution of over €32,000 in favour of the Urban Improvements Fund.

New hospital in Bulebel

The board also approved, unanimously, the construction of a new hospital in Bulebel to replace the St James Hospital in Zabbar, which has become too small to deal with the increase of healthcare demands.  The Zabbar hospital has to close down within a year.

Located approximately 120 metres south of the existing Bulebel industrial estate, the new hospital will incorporate 61 single and double bedrooms, operating theatres, a mortuary, a chapel,  an auditorium, patient consultation rooms, a canteen, a pharmacy, a children’s play area, offices and a parking area.

Following the granting of the outline development permit in September 2002, partial archaeological investigations and surveys were carried out on the site, resulting in the discovery of a large cluster of tombs and other archaeological features. Subsequently the applicant opted to re-locate the proposed development lower down the site in order to eliminate any impacts on the archaeological area. This revised proposal was endorsed by the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage.

 

New secondary school in Kirkop

The MEPA Board also gave planning permission for works to commence on the construction of a new secondary school building block for girls within the locality of Kirkop. The school which will incorporate new sports facilities will be built directly adjacent to the recently constructed boys’ secondary and regional sports complex, and will together form a single educational complex forming part of Kullegg San Benedittu.

 

 

 

 

 

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