The Malta Independent 14 July 2020, Tuesday

Decision on Rabat promenade application to be decided Thursday

Kevin Schembri Orland Tuesday, 23 June 2020, 08:12 Last update: about 20 days ago

A project that will see a promenade constructed on the outskirts of Rabat overlooking a valley is set to be decided by the Planning Authority Board this Thursday.

Filed in 2018, the project envisages a promenade being constructed along Triq Tat-Tabija, Triq Gheriexem in Rabat, and will involve alterations to the carriageway, the construction of a promenade, the installation of infrastructural services, paving works, installation of street furniture and the provision of parking spaces.

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The site overlooks a valley known as ‘Wied tal-Gnien Hira’ and this particular area is scheduled as an Area of High Landscape.

“The site is currently a local access road going around the northern edge of Rabat. The road leads to the Nigret recreational area and Għajn: The National Water Conservation Awareness Centre from the Domus Romana. Triq Tat-Tabija and Triq Għeriexem currently have a total of 15 formal parking spaces and four bus stops. The outer side of the road does not have any pavements, whilst the pavements along the inner side of the road are fragmented and some of the stretches of the road are narrow,” the case officer’s report reads.

The Case Officer’s report reads that the existing carriageways will be modified to better accommodate the traffic passing through these roads, but the proposed widening will not create any additional lanes.

The report reads that the proposed development seeks to accommodate the increased traffic passing through these roads through appropriate safety mechanisms, whilst providing embellishment works in the area through the inclusion of the belvedere along the stretch of road in question. “The proposal seeks to facilitate traffic modal shift through the provision of an integrated transport network whilst minimising adverse environmental impacts particularly on protected areas and species”

“The original proposal was going to extend over 2,536 square metres of undeveloped ODZ land. This was revised throughout the processing of the application, and a large open space located at the bend at the corner with Triq Doni was removed from the proposed road design to limit the footprint overlapping onto undeveloped ODZ land.”

It was noted that later plan submissions had slightly reduced the impact on the valley in the area along the stretch of the road at Tat-Tabija by means of the removal of piles and the cantilevered part of the belvedere in this area.

The ERA stated that should the development be approved, it should be subject to an Environmental Permit/Registration and the submission of a Method Statement addressing the freshwater springs in the area and their related habitats.

A number of objections were received including by NGOs Moviment Graffitti and NGO Friends of the Earth Malta. Some of the objections revolved around the lack of plans regarding the parking provision, that the promenade does not have adequate landscaping and will make it unpleasant to walk on, and that the project does not really seem to be aimed at a modal shift given the road widening for parking.

Light pollution was also highlighted as a concern.

The Case Officer has recommended that the project be approved.

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