Qui-si-sana blues

The charge that MEPA is trying to make a new Paceville out of Qui-si-sana is ludicrous.

A recent press release by the Qui-si-sana and Sliema residents associations accused MEPA that it was doing its “utmost” to bypass its own policies and transform Qui-si-sana into a commercial area. The proof? A MEPA permit allowing a 20 sq. mt. souvenir shop to be changed into a tea shop!

Moreover, the associations complained that the recently inaugurated garden in Qui-si-sana, which cost €2 million, “would step up the flow of traffic and pedestrians in the area and, as a result, increase the pressure on restaurants” – whatever that means.

I normally criticise MEPA officials for erroneously interpreting MEPA’s own policies so as to attain negative decisions on proposed developments that the same policies were never intended to block; in this manner showing – in my opinion – an inordinate and unjustified disdain towards genuine development permit applicants. But to publicly come out with a conspiracy theory to the effect that MEPA intends to change Qui-si-sana into a Paceville is ludicrous and reveals a paranoid mindset.

I still believe that Government lost a golden opportunity to develop a car-park in Sliema in the space below the new Qui-si-sana garden, without abandoning the garden idea. When I say a ‘car-park’, I mean a ‘car-park’ not the commercial centre/car-park hotchpotch that was proposed in the Qui-Si-Sana development brief that has now been abandoned.

Whoever thought of that idea must have thought that the commercial side of the development would go to finance the car-park. That was completely wrong because the car-park would have been utilised to service a new unneeded commercial centre rather than giving the service that is needed in the area as it currently is. Moreover MEPA has the money to finance car-parks that serve only as car-parks.

On the other hand, I am astounded by the residents’ lament that the new garden will attract more people to the area with the implication that the quiet atmosphere that the residents enjoy is in danger.

Qui-si-sana can never be an oasis of peace in the midst of Malta’s most modern conurbation as Sliema has become. You cannot have a peaceful Los Angeles suburb just off ‘Times Square’, New York – however hard you try. My sympathies on this are with the residents but, objectively, I think that in the long run they are on a losing ticket.

They have a right to resist any changes that in some way imperil the ‘status quo’ of their beloved neighbourhood but they cannot build a bastion round Qui-si-sana to keep ‘the enemy at bay’. Making wild accusations against MEPA and the Prime Minister will not do the trick, either.

This does not mean that Qui-si-sana will ever become another Paceville. The way that place evolved, in the days before MEPA, into an entertainment Mecca of sorts is no planning achievement that the country can be proud of. In any case, two Pacevilles in Malta do not make economic sense and - in the long run - it is economic viability that pushes the evolution of urban spaces, and not Prime Ministers!

To pretend that Qui-si-sana is a permanent enclave that can survive completely on its own, cut off from what is happening in Sliema is not realistic.


The fact that there is a Qui-si-sana Residents Association as distinct from the Sliema Residents Association - let alone the democratically elected Sliema Local Council – speaks volumes.

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Peter Cassar

While I understand residents' concerns especially on previous plans for a carpark plus commercial development I cannot but agree with Michael Falzon when he says "I am astounded by the residents’ lament that the new garden will attract more people to the area with the implication that the quiet atmosphere that the residents enjoy is in danger". I am not a resident but I enjoy taking my child to a decent play area in that part of Sliema where many of us Maltese from other localities enjoy a stroll with our kids. What I would expect is that we see more playing fields of the same standards in other localities ...