Architects slates Planning Authority’s ‘unacceptable piecemeal reviews’

The Chamber of Architects has held that the review of the Grand Harbour Local Plan must be seen in the light of SPED, which pushes for the regeneration of Marsa

jeanelle_mifsud
Jeanelle Mifsud
12 January 2017, 12:12pm
The development of the Marsa Park site should be linked to the regeneration of Marsa, according to the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development
The development of the Marsa Park site should be linked to the regeneration of Marsa, according to the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development
The Chamber of Architects has held that the review of the Grand Harbour Local Plan must be seen in the light of SPED, which pushes for the regeneration of Marsa

The Chamber of Architects has criticised the way the Planning Authority has chosen the Marsa Park site for a partial review of the Grand Harbour Local Plan, as well as the authority’s approach to such reviews.

In a letter addressed to the director of the Planning Authority, the Chamber referred to the PA’s approach to partial reviews as “piecemeal”, and that it “does not foster good planning.”

“Instead of having a national strategy for planning, the Authority seems to be taking different approaches to different areas, for example by carrying out a local plan review for the Marsa Park site, while, on the other hand, taking the approach of a development framework/masterplan for the Paceville area,” the Chamber said, adding that it was not clear what criteria are being considered to determine the approach for each locality.

The Chamber noted that, according to the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED), the development of the Marsa Park site should be linked to the regeneration of Marsa, as a town. It should, therefore, not be treated in isolation, it said.

“Marsa has suffered for several decades from an evident lack of planning. Its land side borders consist primarily of large main arterial roads designed solely for the efficient passage of vehicles. It is evident that these roads isolate the town from, rather than connecting it to, the surrounding territory,” the Chamber said, claiming that this has led to the degradation of Marsa’s urban environment, the proliferation of undesirable uses and the lack of attractiveness of the Town for residential purposes.

According to the Chamber, the proposed local plan review does not  outline how the Marsa community may eventually benefit from any development envisaged. “No measures are included in the plan to support and strengthen the local community, and provide for their needs. Nothing in the proposal will make Marsa any more attractive as a residential town once again. Measures to shield the community from the effects of the traffic are also ill-considered or inadequate,” it said.

The Chamber stressed the Planning Authority’s role in creating a comprehensive plan which takes into account community needs, road transport re-alignment, environment improvement and flooding mitigation measures.

“These should be integral components of any planning proposal for the future regeneration of Marsa and the Marsa Park. It is the Planning Authority’s duty to include improvements in these aspects, to carrying out the necessary studies with the authorities concerned and integrate them into the plan. The problems cannot be left in the hands of the developers of the separate parcels of land.”

The Chamber held that the review must be seen in the light of SPED, which pushes for the regeneration of Marsa. “Failure to do so would render the SPED a useless document not worth the paper it is written on, and would render the review process entirely futile since it fails to achieve the objectives of the SPED.”

“The review process should therefore not take the local plan’s current proposals as a status quo, but should be taken as an opportunity to propose serious relevant and effective solutions to help Marsa’s complete regeneration,” the Chamber said.