The Malta Independent 8 December 2022, Thursday
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PA suspends decision on Farsons business park pending submission of master plan for site

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 5 October 2017, 12:12 Last update: about 6 years ago

The Planning Authority on Thursday postponed taking a decision on a planning application which proposes the development of a business park consisting of seven blocks of offices, each five storeys high, on the Farsons Brewery site in the Mriehel Industrial Estate.

The application was filed by the chairman of the Farsons board of directors.

An argument during the sitting broke out over building height. Existing policy states that sites having an area exceeding 25,000 m2 can go over 14m height provided a number of conditions are adhered to. The car park block in the proposed development goes up to 20.38m and another block hits 16.36m high.

The site area stood at 16,400m2, however the applicant argued that this area is greater than 25,000 m2 if one takes into account the already accepted Old Brewhouse restoration application, explaining that the two projects are linked.

The PA board, however, noted that the site plan did not include this information. One board member highlighted the need for a master plan of the site to be drawn up before a decision on the excess of 14m height is taken.

The applicant mentioned that in the Old Brewhouse project, it was said that parking requirements would be addressed in this plan, thus showing that the two projects were linked.

The applicant agreed to submit a master plan for the site, before continuing with the present application.

The proposed development discussed today would include landscaped courtyards and a multi-level car park. The proposal also includes the demolition of the existing buildings, while keeping a screen façade which is listed as Grade 2. There will also be six landscaped courtyards and a plant at level -1.

During their presentation before the board, representatives of the applicant explained that the idea is to rehabilitate and reuse the listed Grade 2 portion of the building.

The concept in their design, they said, is to create a community feel, adding that people would be able to spend time there after work, mentioning the inclusion of garden areas planned to be open for the public.

Turning to parking, the case officer notes that the proposed development includes a multi-storey car park catering for 707 parking spaces. “In view of the extent of the development, a Traffic Impact Assessment was required. This study was submitted and assessed by the Transport Planning Unit (TPU). The conclusions by the TPU, whilst accepting the conclusions of the TIA, outlined a series of issues related to the overall context of the Mriehel Industrial Estate and suggested submissions of a green travel plan. Following the submission of the latter, the TPU deemed it acceptable and referred the proposal to obtain a clearance from Transport Malta.”

Although the Planning Directorate acknowledges the fact that the proposed development might contribute to a substantial improvement in terms of urban design and operational matters, it still considers that there are residual impacts during the construction phase that will contribute to a substantial inconvenience for the locality. “Thus the Planning Directorate considers that the request for a planning obligation can be utilized in the effected locality to make up for the negative effects of the proposed development being of a major scale in nature. The Planning Directorate is therefore recommending a financial planning contribution of €362,675 towards the Planning Authority Fund  prior to the issue of the development permission.”

The applicants however said that this project is being treated unfairly in this regard, as projects in similar areas had lower planning gain calculations.

The Planning Directorate recommended that the project be approved, and the case is expected to be decided by the Planning Authority Board.

An Environment Planning Statement which was delivered as part of the presentation by the applicant, was drawn up by AIS Environment. The project will convert an industrial component  (a storage of materials) to commercial land use. “During the construction phase, there will be moderate negative impact on residents, but a major beneficial impact during operations as it would improve the land use,” the AIS representative said. 

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