The Malta Independent 1 March 2021, Monday

TMID Editorial: Upgrading Ta’ Qali - Multiple projects underway

Tuesday, 23 February 2021, 10:24 Last update: about 6 days ago

Ta’ Qali is currently seeing some major upgrades.

Everyone knows about the crafts village project, which had been on the cards for many years. This part of Ta’ Qali was in dire need of a face lift, and those who work and sell their wares in the area will hopefully see more tourists flock to the site once Covid-19 passes. It was always a treat to go there in the past just to see the craftsmen at work.

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But that isn’t the only major project for the area.

A number of planning applications paint a broader picture of the plans for the locality.

In the most recent one, the government filed a planning application to construct a 506-vehicle car park and a bike park (consisting of a small cycling track) on a site which is currently in quite a bad state, right opposite the aviation museum. Among its goals, the project aims “to provide a professional bike park for bicycle enthusiasts, to foster and encourage the use of bicycles as a means of green transport and to provide an area where bicycle clubs can conglomerate and thus increase social interaction.”

Some might ask whether the car park is needed, given that the football stadium has a car park round the back and that there are other car parks around Ta’Qali. This is a valid question, and thus the project needs to be evaluated hand-in-hand with all the other projects in the area.

The site of the aforementioned car park is right next to another planned project that would see the construction of an open-air concert/recreational space with facilities that include a performance stage, lavatories; shops for refreshments and music bands' merchandise etc. While it is good to see the government providing spaces for local artists, some question whether this should have been included in an area designated for a national park? The application reads that the open space is meant to double as a recreational/picnic area throughout the whole year and that public access would only be restricted throughout periods when large scale events are happening.

Aside from this, there are further plans for Ta’ Qali that would promote outdoor activities. Yet another planning application was filed proposing, among other things, a looped cycling track and a jogging track which allow such athletes to jog or cycle around a large part of Ta’ Qali (this is a separate project from the previously mentioned small cycling track). The same application also includes the formation of a camping site.

In addition to the above, the Greek theatre will also be completely refurbished and the government has planted more trees in Ta’ Qali in recent years.

All in all, the government is working on implementing major plans for the area. One must stress, however, that the area should always be kept predominantly as a public open space and any future plans the government might have must keep this in mind. There are very few areas people can go and enjoy family time for free outside of their homes, Ta’Qali is one such area. Families have always gone on weekends to play with their dogs, enjoy a picnic or just walk the park grounds. In addition to this, Malta has so few green spaces left that one must stress the area should remain predominantly green, and any works should fit in with this idea. As an example, one hopes that the car park will have trees around it in order to at least mask its presence.

Some have also suggested making Ta’ Qali a car-free zone, or at least part of it. While making the whole locality car free might be asking a bit too much mainly due to the National Stadium, perhaps making part of it car free is doable. The government should look into it before actually starting works on the aforementioned projects, should the applications be approved that is, as such an idea would require a number of changes to be made.

 

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