The Malta Independent 23 August 2019, Friday

Planning Authority approves massive extension of St Vincent De Paul home

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 25 April 2019, 11:21 Last update: about 5 months ago

An application for an extention to the St Vincent de Paul home for the elderly, aimed to increase the number of residents by 490, was unanimously approved by the Planning authority today.

The application is to construct a home for the elderly including a basement and four residential blocks to house 490 residents and a car park within the SVPR long term care facility complex.  The whole site shall occupy an area of circa 16,500 square metres, the case officer’s report read. The 490 residents will be housed in around 190 rooms.

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The project itself has been at the heart of a scandal. Times of Malta reported that a tender morphed the contract into the construction of this extension which was outside the scope of the tender call, after government had entered into new negotiations with the consortium which had won the tender. They reported that in return for the construction, government had agreed to issue a €270 million direct order for the management of the extension.

Two of the blocks will be five storeys high, with a height of 20.3 metres, facing Triq Hal Qormi. The other two blocks are proposed to be three floors high with a height of 12.40 metres. The proposal encroaches beyond the land identified in the South Malta Local Plan for the allocation of social and community facilities. The Architect submitted a justification wherein it was stated that the area encroaching beyond the boundary designated for social and community facilities is around 600 square metres, and this was required since Transport Malta indicated that the entity intends to change the road alignment for Triq Hal-Qormi and due to site restrictions the residential blocks had to be shifted slightly.

Originally there were five units of three storeys, but since the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage said that excavation on part of the site is not possible, the plans were altered, the applicant’s architect, George Pullicino said.

During the presentation, the applicant’s architect said that the dementia ward will have two-bedded rooms and every floor will have a secured landscaped area, and a communal and dining area. There will be a small activity room in every ward.

In terms of general wards, there will be three beds to a room, and in every residence there will be a balcony.  Every resident will have their own wardrobe and a kitchenette will be installed in every room. There will be a living area in every ward as well, the applicant’s architect – George Pullicino – said. Sensory gardens will also be built.

There will be a central nursing station, a treatment room and other facilities in every ward. One of the four block’s ground floors will be used for administrative offices. Each block will also have two fire lifts, to ease evacuation in case of fire.

The idea is to finish construction in 15 months, the architect said.

PN MP Marthese Portelli, during the board meeting, said that the PN is in favour of the need for more beds in the country, but said that this extension saw allegations of non-observance of public procurement regulations which went before the Auditor General.  She said that the Auditor General has not yet taken a decision on this. She said that if there was a non-observance of procedure there would be a problem. “It is important that the St Vincent de Paul guarantee that this is a government project (as opposed to one filed by the private sector entity).”

We need confirmation that this is a St Vincent de Paul project, she said, indicating that she would not want the PA decision to be used as an argument to possibly counter the Auditor General’s findings should he find wrongdoing. The Chairman of the Board Vince Cassar said this is not something the board goes into but said that the CEO of SVPR Josianne Cutjar is the applicant.

PA Executive Chairperson Johann Buttigieg said that the permission is on the site, irrespective of who the applicant is.  The PA, he said, needs to ensure that the application is according to plans and policies and that is where the role of the PA ends.

The board approved the application.

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