PA approves seven-storey block overlooking Mizieb

The Planning Authority has approved a 7 storey block in Mellieha proposed by GAP Ltd.

Architectural rendition of the Ta’ Masrija development in Mellieha
Architectural rendition of the Ta’ Masrija development in Mellieha

The Planning Board approved planning permission for the development of an 7 storey residential block in Ta’ Masrija area in Mellieha. Although located within development zones, the proposal is still considered sensitive as it is located on a ridge and is set to impact on views enjoyed by residents living in two or three-storey houses in the surrounding areas. It will also impact on views from Mizieb and Wardija.

The site which covers an area of approximately 5,067m² and falls within the development zone, will partly be built on a disused quarry, having a frontage on the arterial road that leads vehicular traffic from the outskirts of Mellieha down to Ghadira Bay.

The new development comprising of 152 apartments and 168 lock-up garages will include the creation of a new road adjacent to the arterial road to provide vehicular and pedestrian access to the property.

The GAP development was recommended for approval by the case officer.

According to the case officer the GAP application abides by the criteria of policies applying for the area.

GAP will be expected to contribute €193,000 as a planning gain for the required improvements to the junction at Triq il-Mithna l-Qadima and Mizieb.  The cost of the new junction totalling €740,000 will be split among all developers of different plots.  

GAP has also presented an addendum to the original EIA for the project, detailing the visual impact of their application from  sensitive views from Mizieb and Wardija, claiming an improvement over plans presented in 2006 which foresaw the application of the floor area ratio mechanism, a controversial planning mechanism allowing extra floors in return for more open spaces. 

While  MEPA’s stated objectives for the planning review was to prohibit the adoption of the floor-area-ratio (FAR) policy on this site, the new policy approved in 2015 still permits heights of four and five floors, with increased heights of up to seven floors in some parts of the site. Only two- to three-storey buildings are allowed in surrounding areas. 

Under intense pressure from residents MEPA had already committed not to apply the floor-to-area ratio policy in correspondence with the Mellieha local council dating back to 2007. The council had opposed an original application for 462 apartments, more than 700 parking spaces, a 1,025-square-metre neighbourhood centre, and a club of similar size. 

The GAP application was presented in November 2015 just two weeks after a policy review which is set to allow buildings of up to seven storeys high, on parts of the site. The proposed block will be seven storeys high above three basement levels for 168 garages.   

The GAP proposal only covers a part of the site that lies along the Mellieha by-pass.  A new application was presented last week to construct 47 apartments and 40 garages on an adjacent site.

GAP – owned by Paul Attard, George Muscat and Adrian Muscat – are the developers behind Tigné’s Fort Cambridge and recently proposed the development of a 40-storey hotel right next door.