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Manoel Island developers say they are committed to 80,000 sq.m. park

Midi plc say they are committed to masterplan and deed conditions to hive off 62% of Manoel Island as public open space • Greens demand investigation into Manoel Island contract

Matthew Vella
23 March 2017, 12:01pm
A rendition of the Manoel Island project by architects Dowling Jones Stone
A rendition of the Manoel Island project by architects Dowling Jones Stone
The consortium developing Manoel Island and Tigné Point said it remains fully committed to the restoration and rehabilitation of the heritage buildings on the islet and “extensive provision” of leisure space and heritage walks, as Midi plc moved to apply for permits for an extensive shopping complex and a casino-hotel at the historic Lazaretto coast.

The plans were immediately described as “completely unacceptable” by Gzira mayor Conrad Borg Manché, who said the proposal would create “another jumble of retail outlets and commercialised space”.

Green Party chairperson Prof. Arnold Cassola also said that Alternattiva Demokratika was demanding a full investigation into the Manoel Island contract between the Maltese government and the Midi consortium. “If any of the conditions of the contract have been breached, Manoel Island is to be returned to the Maltese government and is to be turned into a national park.”

“As things stand, AD totally refutes the proposal of the Midi developers to develop Manoel Island into a hotel at Fort Manoel, a shopping complex and a casino-hotel at the historic 18th century Lazaretto, retail outlets and luxury low-rise apartments, a helipad and superyacht marina, while taking over also the foreshore including the current swimming spot beneath the fort to build a water taxi pontoon,” Cassola said.

Cassola said Midi plc had already caused enough damage by reducing Tigné Point to a concrete slum. “We reiterate that Manoel Island, the only lung in the polluted and congested Tas-Sliema and Gżira area, should be turned into a national park for the enjoyment of one and all.”

Midi plc was granted a 99-year concession on the large part of Manoel Island in 2000, and held a meeting with NGOs on Tuesday where it presented its master plan for the development, with a full planning application expected to be submitted within the week.

The Manoel Island masterplan, in line with the deed, envisages that 62% of Manoel Island is to be dedicated to public open spaces, including the creation of an 80,000‐square metre park, 20% of Manoel Island is to be dedicated to heritage buildings and 18% of Manoel Island is to be dedicated to new buildings.

“Furthermore, the foreshore will be fully accessible to the public and swimmers,” company secretary Graham Fairclough said. “The company will be imminently filing an application on the new masterplan with the Planning Authority and undergoing the application process with a view of completing the development by March 2023.”

Midi has appointed Jefferies International Limited as financial adviser for the purposes of identifying and selecting a suitable strategic partner to financially support the development of Manoel Island.

Midi also engaged PwC Global’s Strategy& as a consultant for the Manoel Island project together with Foster + Partners to draw up a conceptual masterplan for this project, to finally prepare a business and costing plan for the project.

Until six years ago, MIDI was considering turning Fort Manoel into a 55-suite boutique hotel, and turn the former military parade ground into a concert venue. Plans also included a ‘marina village’ of low-rise residential units, projected to sell at roughly the same price as Tigné Point’s more expensive apartments. 

Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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