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[WATCH] 177 development applications for Sliema accepted in just three weeks – local council

Sliema Councillor Paul Radmilli says new applications to be spread over 72 construction sites, affecting all of Sliema

miriam yannick_pace
Miriam Dalli / Yannick Pace
5 November 2016, 11:57am
Last updated on 5 November 2016, 4:48pm
Residents demand remedial action for uncontrolled overdevelopment (Photo: Ivan M Consiglio/MediaToday)
Residents demand remedial action for uncontrolled overdevelopment (Photo: Ivan M Consiglio/MediaToday)
Protest attendees voice concerns over Sliema overdevelopment
The Planning Authority has accepted 177 new developments for Sliema over the past three weeks according to Paul Radmilli, a Sliema local councillor.

These new developments, he said, will be spread over 72 construction sites and will create the need for 184 new parking spaces.

Placards lined up ahead of protest (Photo: Ivan M Consiglio/MediaToday)
Placards lined up ahead of protest (Photo: Ivan M Consiglio/MediaToday)
"Many of the new apartments do not have proper waste disposal facilities and will lead to a large number of garbage bags being left outside," Radmilli argued. “The MHRA recently complained about the fact that Sliema looks shabby. It’s obviously going to look shabby, if the we keep accepting applications for apartments without ensuring that they have the necessary services."

Sliema residents and green NGOs gathered at Dingli Circus this morning to protest the lack of consideration in the issuance of development permits, most of which turned streets of beautiful character houses into blocks of flats overshadowing surviving houses.

Photography by Ivan M Consiglio/MediaToday
Photography by Ivan M Consiglio/MediaToday
Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) activist Robert Fenech, refuted claims that Sliema is a lost cause, adding that people still live in Sliema and there are therefore still many reasons to fight against overdevelopment.

Fenech lamented what he referred to as the erosion of safeguards within the Planning Authority claiming that decisions where being left to a smaller group of people, thus increasing the potential that decisions are taken, that are not in the interest of the country and the people. He also called for action to be taken against PA employees who issue permits that are clearly irregular.

FAA coordinator Astrid Vella (Photo: Ivan M Consiglio/MediaToday)
FAA coordinator Astrid Vella (Photo: Ivan M Consiglio/MediaToday)
A number of people who were in attendance explained to MaltaToday that they feel that the government has let them down, arguing that while they are not against development, and understand that it is important, they feel that it has reached levels that are no longer sustainable. A number said that no matter which party is in government, they feel that no consideration is given to how development affects people and communities.

FAA spokeswoman Astrid Vella said that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has agreed to a walkabout in Sliema with the NGO in the near future however a date has not yet been announced. She said that FAA had spent €12,000 in the past few months to appeal a number of decisions, adding that the NGO has had to employ people on a full-time basis in order to keep up with all applications.

Democratic Party founder Marlene Farrugia (Photo: Ivan M. Consiglio/MediaToday)
Democratic Party founder Marlene Farrugia (Photo: Ivan M. Consiglio/MediaToday)
Sliema local councillor Michael Briguglio said that the council was also dedicating a lot of resources to sifting through planning applications for Sliema, and to appeal decisions. He said that the council was also trying to be proactive by increasing pedestrian and bicycle lanes in the area and urged people to take a stand and apply pressure via social media.

"We have a vox pop government and if we make our voices heard, and apply enough pressure we can achieve results," he said.

Briguglio added that while there were many good and well intentioned people at the Planning Authority, changes need to made.

"A number of the applications submitted to the PA are irregular. These should be sent back immediately and shouldn't even be published. The PA is not there simply to rubber stamp applications."

He said that the Sliema local council will be meeting the Environment and Resources Agency next Thursday to discuss a list of issues on which the council feels that the agency should be taking action.

"Expect the government to announce some environmental proposal on Friday to show us how much it cares about the environment,” he said

miriam
Miriam Dalli joined MaltaToday.com.mt in 2010 and was assistant editor fr...
yannick_pace
Yannick joined MaltaToday as a journalist in 2016. His main areas of interest are politics...
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