Church commission urges study on property market to pre-empt future glut

Church's environment commission urges study on Malta's inflating property market, warns future oversupply of properties could have adverse economical effects 

The Church’s Environment Commission (KA) has urged the government to commission a national study on the Maltese property market and the driving forces behind the rise in prices.

In a statement, the KA warned that a future mismatch of supply and demand may force the government to adopt measures to protect developers from financial problems – with subsequent adverse ripple-effects on the economy.

“Not all policy measures that intervene in the property market are desirable even if such measures are intended to provide affordable housing or for social housing purposes,” it said. “The 500-year-old Macchiavellian statement that the end justifies the means, should be handled with great caution, because it may lead to consequences which are more unjust than the injustices it may aim to address.”

The KA warned that generic statements such as ‘the economy is growing’ are not enough to explain or justify the increase in buildings, while statements such as ‘government should not interfere in the property market’ are potentially dangerous.

“In its essence, development planning is a desirable intervention in a market which would otherwise make the country a very unpleasant place to live in for most people,” it said.

The KA also dismissed popular statements that high-rise buildings are the only alternative to avoid urban sprawl, stating that such arguments would only hold water if all existing buildings in Malta are being utilized, if it can be proven that high-rise buildings will improve the standard of living, and if absolutely no construction is carried out outside development zones.

“Unfortunately, through a very ill-advised policy design and contrary to statements that ‘higher is better than urban sprawl’, old ruins in the countryside are being resuscitated to become dwellings.”