The Malta Independent 20 October 2021, Wednesday

PA to decide on three Manoel Island applications this Thursday

Monday, 21 October 2019, 11:17 Last update: about 2 years ago

Three applications related to the Manoel Island project are set to be heard by the Planning Authority Board this Thursday.

The applications, based on the already approved masterplan, deal with the upgrading of the quay and marina facilities, a proposed football pitch and a proposed bocci pitch, among other things.

The first application, dealing with the quay and marina facilities, includes repair works on the quay wall and marina service culvert, four pontoons linked by a connecting walkway, a visitor and events basin with a water taxi berth, as well as super-yacht berthing facilities, in conjunction with a newly proposed breakwater which is subject to a separate planning application. The total number of berths for this proposed application are 188.

Manoel Island, formerly known as ‘Isoletto’ in the Knights’ Domain, is a leaf-shaped island with an approximate area of 305,000sq.m and is located at the heart of Malta’s largest and most densely populated conurbation within Marsamxett Harbour, with direct visual links to Tigne’, Sliema, Gzira, Ta’ Xbiex, Msida. Over the last 500 years the island served various national exigencies, mainly of military and sanitary nature.

The case officer highlights that the proposal follows the aims of the Development Brief, with all berthing facilities located from the western tip of the island up till the eastern edge of the Lazzaretto complex. “It also complied with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) done during the outline permit, with documentation on the Marina Archaeological Survey, the Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed pontoon installation in Ta’ Xbiex Creek and the Marine Environmental Monitoring Programme Reports all taken into consideration.”

“The architect also highlights that the repair works and installation of pontoons might lead to minor localised negative impacts, however the existing marine environment in the area has already been disturbed with the reclamation of land. In order to mitigate such impacts, all necessary monitoring and measures will be taken to ensure the least disturbance of the environment. In such regard, the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) assessed the proposed interventions and stated that the works are in line with what has been assessed in the EIA presented in the outline application, finding no objection to the development subject to the inclusion of conditions and submission of a Works Method Statement (WMS).”

In terms of cultural heritage the development was assessed by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH), noting that the works may impact both on the seabed and on shore cultural heritage assets, including historical buildings, historic quays and archaeological remains on or within the seabed. Following submission of additional information and photomontages, the SCH noted that the current quay is on reclaimed land that extends beyond the natural coastline, as identified in the early 20th century survey sheets and charts, and the declared intent to recover any fittings that may be of nautical and historical importance. Additionally following review of the photomontages, the greater presence of the moored vessels is considered compatible and relevant with the appearance and historical function of the harbour. As such, the SCH found no objection in principle to the extension of the mooring facilities, subject to conditions.”

The football pitch application proposes the excavation of existing land and construction of a football pitch, including underlying sport facilities, service and plant rooms, reservoir and clubhouse.

In terms of cultural heritage the development was assessed by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH), who outlined that the proposed development lies within an Area of High Landscape Value of the Harbour Fortifications and home to multiple cultural heritage assets. The entity noted that this application is being assessed together with the adjacent application for the construction of the Bocci pitch, stating that both applications were originally proposed within an already impacted area within the glacis, as discussed in the approved outlined masterplan.

“Initially the SCH discussed that the realignment of the football pitch and clubhouse in this application will take additional footprint from the surviving fort’s glacis, even though they have already been impacted by modern structures and road dating to the British period which can still be restored in order to preserve them and their view and vista from the Sliema side. The SCH also cautioned the applicant that the survival of unknown archaeological remains in the area cannot be excluded and that accidental discoveries may pose a threat to the Cultural Heritage.”

Several communications were made between the the applicant and the SCH, and  concerns were raised regarding views. Certain revisions in the drawings and photomontages were made and were considered an improvement to the proposal by SCH, requesting further mitigation measures including a Works Method Statement describing the mitigation strategy and the relevant interventions. “Once such documentation was received, the entity stated that the latest proposal for mitigation measures should lessen the visual impact, even on the party wall bearing onto the yacht yard, and as such gave their no objection to the proposal, subject to the conditions.”

This application is also being recommended for approval.

The final application, regarding the bocci pitch and club, is also being recommended for approval.



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