The Malta Independent 16 May 2021, Sunday

PA gives the thumbs-up for Ta’ Qali go-kart track to be replaced with garden centre

Albert Galea Monday, 19 April 2021, 07:55 Last update: about 27 days ago

The Planning Authority has given the thumbs up for the Ta’ Qali Badger Karting race track to become a garden centre.

The Badger Karting raceway, which has been closed since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, was Malta’s only commercial go karting raceway, and was a popular go-to place for children wanting a different thrill and amateur motorsport enthusiasts alike.

The plans, which were approved by the Planning Commission last Tuesday, will see the 11,000 square metre site be taken up by a garden centre which will rise to a height of 6.5 metres and also include facilities for a cafeteria and open play areas for children, a bumping car area, and an animal petting area.

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The built area will be of 2,880 square metres at ground floor and 450 square metres at first floor level – far larger than the built-up area of 442 square metres at ground floor level which currently exists.

The ground floor will also have space for 58 parking spaces, while a 2,700 square metre basement will also be excavated for 26 parking spaces for staff, substantial stores and loading and unloading bays, and the possibility of three reservoirs.

The current go kart site had been there since the late 1990s.  A 2010 application to demolish the track and replace it with an open storage facility to park buses related to public transport reform was withdrawn.

The applicant in this case is a company called TQ Centre Limited.

The Planning Authority’s case officer had recommended that the application is granted.

The Environment and Resources Authority had initially been concerned with the development, which is in an outside development zone (ODZ) although already on a committed site, as it could result in the intensification of development of an urban nature in an ODZ area.

However, the ERA later concluded that the development “is unlikely to result in significant adverse environmental impact” as long as a set of mitigation measures are followed.

A Traffic Impact Assessment by Transport Malta meanwhile found that the number of parking spaces provided in the application is adequate, and found no concerns on the traffic flow which the development will generate, since the road it is on – Triq Durumblat – can already cater for two-way traffic.

The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage meanwhile expressed concern that the proposal includes a take up of land far larger than that of the existing built footprint.

“The proposed development will have a negative visual impact within a landscape which is both rural and cultural in nature”, the Superintendence said, before calling for the application to be refused.

The case officer however said that the proposed building footprint would be limited to the existing commitments and shall not exceed the existing race track.

The case officer also said that the building is less than the maximum seven metres in height as permitted for the area, and that it is being designed “in a contemporary manner to blend with the existing topography of the site”.

The proposed design consists of steel and glass apertures and recycled stone, part of which will be covered with green walls.

A visual impact assessment found that the development will not detract any important features and constraints, and that in most cases the development will not be visible from about 500 metres of the site boundary, and will not be visible from Mdina as it is covered by the Ta’ Qali National Stadium.

The application was filed in December 2018.  It was suspended for a period during 2020, but was reactivated early this year. 

It was approved by the Planning Commissioner on Tuesday.

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