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ERA opposes Marsaskala shopping mall, ‘quarry should be reverted to agriculture’

The Environment and Resources Authority is objecting to a commercial and retail complex proposed in a long disused quarry opposite the Marsaskala Family Park

james
James Debono
21 April 2017, 8:30am
The 10,000 square metre development could be erected opposite the family park in Marsaskala
The 10,000 square metre development could be erected opposite the family park in Marsaskala
The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) is objecting to a commercial and retail complex proposed in a long disused quarry opposite the Marsaskala Family Park.

In a memo presented to the authority last week ERA claimed that if approved the development would introduce commercial and urban development in a quarry which should “preferably be reinstated back to agriculture use, considering its location along an urban fringe”. 

The authority has no power to veto planning decisions taken by the authority but issues recommendations on all applications presented to the authority. 

The long disused 9,750 square metre quarry opposite the Marsaskala Family Park is being proposed for massive commercial development including retail outlets, a drive-through restaurant, offices and restaurants.

In its submissions to the Planning Authority, ERA insisted that retail and commercial development is more appropriate in urban areas which are already designated for such use. 

Although site being a disused quarry adjacent to an existing arterial road is not environmentally sensitive the environmental quality of this rural area can only be improved theorugh “the retention of the area as open space and its possible restoration into agricultural uses.”

Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar has also objected to the application claiming that this is in breach of various policies including the SPED which excludes development in rural areas when this is not legitimate or necessarty. 

“Under no circumstances can the commercial activities being proposed be considered beneficial to the community.  The proposal is a purely commercial venture and cannot be considered as just reason for the take up of ODZ land.”

The development includes a basement carpark, a 3,080 sq.m commercial outlet and 748 sq.m restaurant and a 330 sq.m drive thru at ground floor level, 2,080 sq.m of offices at the first floor level and a landscaped roof. 

The development located outside development zone, opposite the family park and the sewage recycling plant is being proposed by Ephriam Schembri who owns the site.

Other objections have been presented by Nature Trust and Front Harsien ODZ.

Environmental NGO Nature Trust objected to the redevelopment of the long disused quarry, which operated before 1968 arguing that the quarry should be rehabilitated to its natural state by planting with trees and shrubs. 

Nature Trust insists that such an application would lead to urban sprawl especially in view of the fact that a large part of Zonqor has already been given up for the development of the American University campus.

james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
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