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Transport Malta wants traffic study for Bahar ic-Caghaq beach plans

Plans for development of a part of the Coast Road that was left redundant include a large car park and beach facilities

james
James Debono
14 September 2017, 9:00am
The old road: when the Coast Road was widened, the new layout was diverted off this parcel of land which now lies vacant, but the area would be large enough to host what developers are planning in the form of a coastline beach development and car park
The old road: when the Coast Road was widened, the new layout was diverted off this parcel of land which now lies vacant, but the area would be large enough to host what developers are planning in the form of a coastline beach development and car park
A stretch of the old Coast Road left redundant after the completion of the widened road at Bahar ic-Caghaq is still being earmarked for a massive car park and private beach, despite ongoing works by Transport Malta to reclaim the land back to its natural state.

Plans for the development include a huge car park for 346 vehicles over two levels on both sides of the roundabout that lies on disturbed land, facing the sea. The project includes beach facilities with two five-metre-high gazebos with an oriental design on top of the parking area.

The project is being proposed by Joseph Zammit, who happens to be a business partner of Paceville entrepreneur Frank Grima. Grima himself had stated back in 2016 in an interview with the Malta Business Review that he had plans for a coastline project and a 7,000 sq.m. “Vietnamese style resort” which would be “part beach, part restaurant and part soft entertainment area.”

In April 2016, a Transport Malta spokesperson had told MaltaToday that TM will be issuing a tender for works to return this particular redundant stretch of coast road to its “original state”, by removing asphalt and other granular material in line with requirements set by the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA)

But when consulted by the Planning Authority, TM did not object to Zammit’s application and called on the developers to conduct a Traffic Impact Assessment and a Road Safety Assessment. 

A memo to the PA on the project application states that TM would withhold any further comments until after the assessment of the requested studies.

Contacted by MaltaToday this week, a spokesperson confirmed that Transport Malta still intended to reinstate the stretches of old coast road to their natural state.  

TM is currently reinstating the area known as l-Ghadira s-Safra in the vicinity of Maghtab: the works, in strict collaboration with the ERA, are mostly completed. The authority has removed the asphalt and is in the process of re-introducing soil to the areas formerly covered with asphalt.

The spokesperson confirmed that TM intends to continue the rehabilitation works in the area where the car park is now being proposed.

This week, the PA also started a public consultation on the application originally presented in January 2016. 

Coast road plan
Coast road plan
How parts of the coast road became redundant

The stretch of old Coast Road was left redundant after the completion of the widening project and the re-alignment of the road in Bahar ic-Caghaq.  

According to the TM spokesperson, the new road was designed in line with MEPA permits with the aim of reaching higher and safer standards. The realignment was approved by the MEPA in 2012.

Since the application for the car park and beach facilities is being presented on public land, the Lands Authority has to issue its clearance for the project. 

Last year the Planning Authority issued a planning circular stating that all applications on public land have to be accompanied by a clearance from the Lands Authority stating that it finds “no objection in principle” to the submission of an application on the site in question for the proposed development. 

The circular was issued after this particular application was presented.

But the circular also states that all applications due to be decided after 30 May, 2016, were being suspended for a maximum period of one year, until clearance was issued by the Lands Authority. The LA has not replied to MaltaToday’s questions on whether it has issued a clearance for the project.

Also in June, speaking in parliament, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi announced “a concerted effort to develop beaches in various localities around the island”.

He said that the former Chalet in Sliema had been left in a bad state and that the government would be looking at the possibility of a public-private partnership that would see it converted into a fully-fledged public beach. Similar plans, he said, would be considered in localities such as Pembroke. 

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