The Malta Independent 22 February 2020, Saturday

PL Whip Godfrey Farrugia hits out at Mriehel high-rise development

Kevin Schembri Orland Tuesday, 5 July 2016, 10:10 Last update: about 5 years ago

PL Whip Godfrey Farrugia has hit out against the Mriehel towers, stating that they do not harmonise with the landscape and the skyline. 

The Mriehel towers development has been the topic of much discussion recently, as environmental NGOs filed for a prohibitory injunction, insisting that proper studies be made on the construction of high-rise buildings before decisions are taken. The Court decided to issue a temporary warrant to postpone a meeting where the Planning Authority would have taken a decision on the project.

Dr Farrugia, in a Facebook post, said: “Skylines are a natural heritage domain that belongs to the Maltese and Gozitans and no land owner has a right to their ownership”. He then linked a video to one of his latest speeches in Parliament.

Dr Farrugia during, his Parliamentary speech, had spoken about sustainable development vs sustainable environment. Government, he said, demerged MEPA giving more strength to the environment “as we, more than any other EU member state, must remember our size before taking any decisions”.

He spoke of Maltese homes, mentioning that they are much larger then dwellings in other EU states. “This led to the rise of the lack of consideration given to natural space”. He said the rural areas are reducing in size. “Natural space is, as such, now more valuable”. He spoke of its importance for people’s health.

“While the public domain bill has passed, and it is a giant step in the right direction… I believe that the time has come to again focus on this law and look to refine it. I believe this law has something missing when it comes to the subterranean and airspace”.

“We are used to building one or two storeys. Over the past few years maybe this rose to ten. But now we are seeing 20-30 storey buildings. But when one builds that high on their own land, there is airspace that does not belong to the Planning Authority, government, any institution, but rather is public domain, where people can see the sky, the horizon rather than a shadow. We must look at economic development, but also environmental development”.

Tumas and Gasan holdings intend to invest €70 million in the construction of four towers, 16, 18, 20 and 14 storeys high, in Mrieħel.

When previously speaking with this newsroom, Mriehel towers architect Ray DeMicoli said that the design would include three piazzas for public open space, and a series of bridges that link the buildings. He said that the project aspired to provide high standard office accommodation, served by amenities such as restaurants, a childcare centre and “facilities required by lifestyle and international contemporary demands for work places.”

The time for this development to occur is right, Mr DeMicoli had said, “At the moment, the economy is really vibrant and there is a need for high-quality corporate offices, and this is what this project attempts to provide. Because of the presence of financial institutions in the Mrieħel area, it seems the ideal place to do this. These are decisions one needs to take and move on. I feel the time is right now.”

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