The Malta Independent 5 December 2023, Tuesday
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Plans for ‘Smart Valletta Waterfront’ would see walkway, cycle paths, areas for cultural events

Kevin Schembri Orland Sunday, 31 January 2016, 08:00 Last update: about 9 years ago

Valletta has always been a centre for cultural events; just one example is the yearly Baroque festival. Mayor Alexiei Dingli spoke to this newsroom about some ideas the local council had to create something called a “smart waterfront” that would extend cultural activities to Valletta’s perimeter in an attempt to restore the capital city’s shores.

The idea took root about three years ago, and the local council hired an architect to draw up the concept. It includes a walkway from the AFM Haywharf Base, right round to the cruise liner terminal, with cycle paths, spaces for cultural activities, and better organisation for the communities on the outskirts of the city.

There would be different paths, some for cyclists, he explained, with electric bicycles available for general public use which would have GPS tracking in order to prevent theft as well as possibly some form of identification system.

The concepts were submitted as part of the government’s Master Plan for Valletta, he explained, while stressing that the ideas are still in the concept stage.

 “In summer, many Valletta residents go to the outskirts of the city, for BBQs, to swim and so on. Through the architect’s plans, we wanted to help the communities in the area, such as the fishing community and water polo players.”

The aim, he said is for the area to be used for cultural events as well.

“We identified three areas where Valletta residents head to during the summer months; Marsamxett, next to the water polo pitch; the area known as il-Fossa; and the area we normally refer to as taht is-sur.

“This was a community-based project, and strengthening the communities is a priority.”

The Ferry terminal would be moved to somewhere closer to the area below the Excelsior Hotel, and the fishing boats in that area would be better organised, thus giving more prominence to that part as a fisherman’s village, he said.

As for the area near the water polo pitch, small water parks for children would be created.

“The plan is for the water polo pitch to be used for swimming, water polo and, when not being used for the aforementioned, water-based performances. The water polo pitch is ideal for this due to the stepped seating.”

Further along the coast, close to the HMS Maori wreck, the mayor said that he would like some facilities for divers, including changing rooms, lockers and so on. The reason, he said, is that the council has received reports in the past from divers whose personal belongings, which were left on the rocks, had been stolen. “Many divers frequent the area for this particular wreck”

Another idea proposed would see the historic buildings along the waterfront used for cultural installations.

“We also floated the possibility of installing some theatre on the water close by to where the diving facilities would be situated where performances would take place on water, while the audience would be on land. We suggested this idea at a time when the idea of a breakwater being installed in that area was being touted.”

They are looking at building walkways and using solar panels to light up the paths. Thus the whole project would be self-sustainable.

The amateur water polo pitch beneath the Mediterranean Conference Centre would also be upgraded, he explained, and the walkway would continue towards Barriera Wharf.

Mayor Dingli said that specific details have not been discussed, and the cost of such a project, should it be a part of the Master Plan, are being calculated. In this regard, however, he indicated that EU funds would probably be required.

As for consultation, some initial talks took place around two or three years ago, however he said that if this concept becomes a reality, more consultation would take place with the different communities that visit the area so that their needs can be satisfied while upgrading Valletta’s shores.

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