The Malta Independent 15 August 2020, Saturday

Jerma Development Brief: well-being should be given priority over developers’ ambitions - NGO

Saturday, 1 August 2020, 12:03 Last update: about 14 days ago

Moviment Graffitti today welcomed the amendments in the second consultation document in connection with the ex-Jerma Palace Hotel Development Brief, particularly the reduction in the developable volume from the excessive 100,000sqm laid down in the October 2019 consultation to 65,000sqm, but notes with disappointment that the proposed development is still grossly disproportionate to the size and infrastructure of the locality and offers little in terms of the well-being of the Marsascala residents. 

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We agree with the proposed demolition of the abandoned building, which is not only an eyesore for residents and tourists alike, but also poses a danger to anyone who tries to access the coast, the NGO said. Nonetheless, it remains evident that this Development Brief has been drafted with the primary intention to accommodate the interests of a few developers and with little concern for the well-being of the residents. Regrettably, the Development Brief totally ignores the potential deleterious effects that this large-scale development will have on the community and the surrounding environment, and which could become the tipping point towards an unlivable Marsascala.

The proposed volume of this massive development (65,000sqm floor space) constitutes more than double the volume currently occupied by the ex-Jerma Palace Hotel (30,000sqm floor space). Encouraging such a massive development by committing 65,000sqm for development is in direct contradiction to recent warnings about saturation in tourist accommodations and claims by tourism industry experts that mass tourism and large high-end projects should make way for more sustainable economic and social models and smaller-scale investments, respectively.

Moreover, the Development Brief would allow buildings to rise up to eight storeys, which is significantly higher than the current ex-Jerma structure, the NGO added. The St Thomas Tower will be overshadowed by this massive development and the surrounding residences will also be dwarfed by the imposing structures.

Another point of concern is the fact that the Brief allows the use of the land for non-touristic purposes. 26,000sqm of floor space (which would translate to around 160 apartments) have been committed for residential purposes. This is in direct breach of a 1982 Parliamentary Act which decreed that the area in question could only be developed for touristic purposes. Residential development on the ex-Jerma site will only benefit the developer and will reap no social and economic benefits to the locality and its residents in the long-term.

The NGO also noted that this Development Brief runs counter to the Local Plan by including two additional areas which are not included in the area delineated by the Local Plan. Besides the ex-Jerma Palace Hotel site, the Development Brief area also includes a green area which should be accessible to the public and where no increase in height or volume is permitted, as well as a heritage site for which there is already a policy which is applicable. This inevitably taints the consultation process with irregularities.

Moviment Graffitti remains of the opinion that this Development Brief should prioritize the well-being of residents and enhance the town’s social, historical and environmental value, and not seek to accommodate developers’ interests. Any development on this site should be exclusively used for touristic purposes and should not be larger than the current volume, height and footprint occupied by the ex-Jerma Palace Hotel.

 

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