The Malta Independent 19 August 2019, Monday

db Group decries ‘falsehoods’, says it will not allow truth to be buried

Saturday, 20 July 2019, 10:29 Last update: about 29 days ago

The db Group today decried what it said were falsehoods on its project at the former ITS site, saying it will not allow the truth to be buried.

In a statement, the db Group made reference  to certain ‘interpretations’ of the recent court decision on the issuing of a Planning Authority permit for the City Centre project on the former ITS site. The court had ruled against the Authority due to what it deemed to be a conflict of interest of one of its adjudicating Board members. As a consequence of this decision the permit was revoked obliging our Group to reactivate the application.

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The db Group makes the following declarations on these recent ‘interpretations’.

It is being claimed that by reactivating its application db Group is trying to circumvent the court judgement. This is a falsehood, the group said. The court did not pronounce itself or raise any concerns against the merits of the permit, the process by which it was issued, the project itself or the db Group. It ruled solely and exclusively against the Planning Authority, without in any way expressing itself on the project, the permit and its processing as breaching any applicable rules. Quite simply, therefore, this allegation is blatantly unfounded.

What the court did do, on the other hand, is chastise certain PA Board members who had made public statements about the Project prior to the Board hearing. Our original application had followed the planning process and policies openly and in their entirety. Following this long and rigorous process the PA Board approved the permit by a 10-4 vote. It bears repeating that at every step of the process the db Group was found to have fully adhered to all the applicable policies. Indeed, in many instances, we did more than we were expected to by the Planning Authority, the group said.

Yet we did more than just honour and respect the court judgement. We went beyond by filing judicial letter against the Planning Authority itself, holding it legally and financially responsible for the damages we are suffering as a result of the sentence against it. Our logic is crystal clear: we will not have our rights denied as a consequence of what the court saw as the PA’s shortcomings.  

Secondly, another interpretation being floated is that this court judgement forces our permit application to go through the whole planning process again, as if the already submitted studies and reports do not exist and have not been duly processed. This is another falsehood. The Court of Appeal did not request a fresh application as is being falsely suggested and in fact ordered the continuation of the hearing at Planning stage. We are merely reactivating our application, with some positive changes we have been working on for months.

Even the PA number shall remain the same.

For the record, the changes the group said it is proposing are the following:

  • The former ITS building (Grade 2) will be retained even though we had all the necessary clearances to dismantle and re-integrate it with the new development;
  • The Cold War substation will remain intact and no excavation will be conducted underneath it;
  • An increase in public open spaces;
  • Downsizing of the project development.

A third falsehood being peddled is that the court decision somehow prevents us from applying for a permit to excavate. This is yet another lie, the group said. Obviously, our new application to excavate was filed in tandem and as part of the reactivation and updating of the original project application. It is not a “stand alone”. Clearly, the two make sense only when viewed and considered as one. Of equal importance, the extent of the proposed excavation will not change and it has already been the subject to a specific EIA and a traffic impact assessment in PA 3807/17

Finally, there’s the fourth falsehood being bandied about - that excavating under a building will destroy or endanger it. With this logic, no spaces such as car parks could have ever been created under buildings anywhere in the world. There are numerous examples in historic cities around the world where excavation was carried out under important historic buildings using the right techniques.

db Group  said has so far not actively engaged in public debates.  The Group will however, expose publicly uttered falsehoods for what they are. "We will not allow the truth to be buried. It is here and it requires no excavation," the group said.

 

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