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No permit for Transport Malta work at Gudja junction

Road works near the Dawret il-Gudja roundabout o have started in the absence of a planning permit but Transport Malta is insisting that it is 'collaborating' with the Planning Authority

james
James Debono
9 August 2017, 9:20am
(Gudja Roadworks) Soil has been removed from the site of a proposed McDonalds restaurant, in connection with road widening works
(Gudja Roadworks) Soil has been removed from the site of a proposed McDonalds restaurant, in connection with road widening works
Road works near the Dawret il-Gudja roundabout opposite the MIA Skyparks have started in the absence of a planning permit. But Transport Malta is insisting that it is “collaborating” with the Planning Authority to ensure that works are finalised before the opening of schools.

The works involve the shifting of soil in fields located outside development boundaries.

Both the Planning Authority and Transport Malta now fall under the same minister Ian Borg.

Transport Malta wants to upgrade the existing junction and widen the road near the roundabout between Vjal l-Avjazzjoni and Dawret il-Gudja. But its planning application has not even been issued for public consultation.  

Coincidentally, one of the sites impacted by the works has been earmarked for the relocation of the airport’s McDonalds drive-in. The PA is still assessing this application.

Transport Malta confirmed that “the permitting process for these works started before works commenced” and that it was collaborating with the PA “to make sure that they are completed as soon as possible, before the beginning of the upcoming scholastic year, when roads are normally expected to get busier”. 

TM said that “any soil that needed to be shifted to accommodate the small areas where the road is being widened, was placed in other parts of the same fields, in consultation with the authorities and in full agreement with the farmers who till them”.

The works consist of a realignment of the roads leading to the roundabout connecting the Malta International Airport, Hal Far, Gudja, Luqa and the Kirkop tunnel, to introduce new bypass lanes for quicker traffic flows and lower accident risks. The project also aims to facilitate access to the Malta International Airport. 

Every morning and during the afternoon peak, over 4,000 vehicles use this roundabout every hour.

One of the bypass lanes will enable cars reaching the roundabout through the Kirkop tunnel, from Kirkop, Mqabba, Qrendi, Safi and Zurrieq, to get to Triq l-Avjazzjoni, towards Luqa, without stopping cars driving around the roundabout.

The second bypass lane will facilitate access to the Airport for drivers coming from the direction of Gudja, Ghaxaq, Paola and Tarxien, reaching the roundabout through the Gudja Bypass. A third will enable vehicles coming from Triq l-Avjazzjoni to get to the Gudja Bypass without entering the roundabout. 

The aim is to reduce time lost in traffic jams at this junction, particularly to residents of Gudja, Luqa, Ghaxaq, Kirkop, Mqabba, Qrendi, Safi and Zurrieq who use these arterial roads regularly. The project also aims to facilitate access to the Malta International Airport. 

McDonalds relocation ‘unacceptable’ – ERA

The relocation of the McDonalds drive-in to a 7,000 sq.m. site outside development zones (ODZ) opposite to the Dawret il-Gudja roundabout, was described as “unacceptable” by the Environment and Resources Authority.

“The proposed development can be easily accommodated within the Malta International Airport,” the ERA said in reaction to the application.  

The ERA expressed concern about further loss of agricultural land and the proliferation of “unjustified commercial developments” in the vicinity of MIA.

An ERA site inspection found that works have already been started on the site, with soil having been removed from site. But a spokesperson for McDonald’s made it clear the company had nothing to do with the works in question.

Indeed the works mentioned by the ERA are being conducted by Transport Malta and not by the applicant.

McDonald’s wants to construct a drive-in service, outdoor parking area, and a large landscaped area buffering the site. “The proposal focuses on a green building that is innovative in design, environment-friendly and sustainable,” a spokesperson for the company told MaltaToday.

When asked whether the relocation included moving the existing restaurant, the spokesperson was non-committal, insisting that the company “will await the outcome of the application process and proceed accordingly”.

The present area is leased and any plans for the existing site are the prerogative of MIA, the landowner.

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