The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

Updated: Manoel Island developers defend proposed height changes

Tuesday, 6 November 2018, 17:27 Last update: about 10 months ago

MIDI has defended the recent changes in the Manoel Island planning application, by saying that the modifications made do not increase the overall heights of the development as contemplated in the original master plan.

MIDI has come under fire for raising the height of a number of proposed blocks on Manoel island from 14.5m to 18.5m. This newsroom contacted the company by email and asked them a number of questions.

Asked why they have increased the building height of the majority of the proposed buildings, a spokesperson said: "The transfer of volume from the north clusters to the south clusters contemplates the development of one additional receded floor along the marina in order to accommodate the volume transferred from the north clusters. As a result the building heights along the marina are proposed to include three floors plus one receded floor. This modification does not increase the overall heights of the development as contemplated in the original master plan."

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Asked whether the proposal would result in the overdevelopment of the area, MIDI said: "The overall built up area is unchanged as the proposal simply contemplates shifting volumes from the north clusters to the south clusters.  The total built up area in the amended plans is therefore identical to the total built up area in the original plans."

The group has also been accused of making these changes in secrecy. Former AD Leader Arnold Cassola, in a Facebook post, had said that: "the Manoel Island developers are doing it again. Despite all their promises that they care about the environment and other promises, they have already played a dirty one. In fact, last 12 September 2018, in all secrecy, they applied to increase building heights from 14.5metres to 18.5metres on Manoel Island without even informing the guardianship foundation about it. They kept it all secret. They simply cannot be trusted. Then, in October, they again applied to the Planning Authority for land reclamation and a bocci pitch. They cannot be trusted."

This newsroom asked MIDI whether they consulted with the residents of the area with regards to this change. "The amended plans together with photomontages were published by the Planning Authority for public consultation on 12th September 2018," the company said.

Asked how they intend to cater for the height increase in terms of infrastructure, and also in terms of parking, MIDI said that the "proposed changes do not contemplate the development of additional volume and therefore do not impact the infrastructure."

"Underground parking is being provided for the entire development."

Last March, MIDI, together with the Gzira Local Council, has signed a Guardianship Deed which establishes a non-profit foundation to ensure that Manoel Islan's heritage buildings, foreshore, and significant green park spaces are restored and preserved for the whole community. The Administrative Committee of 'The Manoel Island Foundation' consists of four members, Gzira Mayor Conrad Borg Manche, who will act as the Chairman of the foundation, Lawyer Claire Bonello, Deputy Gzira Mayor Ralph Mangion,  and MIDI CEO Mark Portelli.

Through the deed, MIDI has bound itself to commitments ensuring public access to the Manoel Island Public Park, the Foreshore, Swimming Zones, Fort Manoel, as well as the building heights of the residential units that will be developed on the island.

In a statement, the Manoel Island Foundation confirmed "that during the consultation period it reviewed the amended plans pertaining to the Manoel Island Master Plan submitted by MIDI plc to the Planning Authority. The amendments as proposed constitute a transfer of the residential volumes from the north clusters to the south clusters and the overall development remains a low rise development which does not exceed 4 floors across the island. Furthermore, the proposed amendments do not contemplate any change to the building volumes as originally proposed. The Manoel Island Foundation confirms its commitment to ensuring that MIDI adheres to its obligations in terms of the Guardianship Deed."

MIDI was first granted a 99 year concession by previous PN administrations (with the approval of the entire parliament) for the development of Manoel Island.


 

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