Land reclamation of 3,400 square metres proposed at St Julian’s waterpolo club

Expansion of waterpolo club is being proposed a stone’s throw away from a ferry berth for hop-on, hop-off service operated by the Fortina Group

The St Julian's Aquatic Sports Club
The St Julian's Aquatic Sports Club

The expansion of the St Julian’s Aquatic Sports Club to accommodate a waterpolo pitch and a restaurant will require the reclamation of 3,388sq.m of seabed and the construction of a massive seawall to protect the new facilities, a project development statement presented by the club reveals.

The development is being proposed just 40m away from a proposed “hop on, hop off” ferry service operated by the Fortina Group.

The Planning Authority will be taking a decision on plans for berthing facilities for a 33-metre long boat tomorrow amidst strong objections by the St Julian’s local council, which fears the coastline in St Julian’s will be transformed into a replica of the Sliema Ferries where Fortina operates the Captain Morgan service.

The area where the waterpolo pitch expansion is being proposed is known to host protected sea grasses (Posidonia Meadows) as confirmed in ecological studies on the proposed ferry service.

The site marked in red is where the land reclamation is being proposed
The site marked in red is where the land reclamation is being proposed

A project development statement presented by the club states that the increased area will allow the construction of two swimming pools. The larger of the two pools will cover a 660sq.m area and will be large enough to accommodate waterpolo games. A second 140sq.m pool will be used for teaching purposes.

A specifically designed seawall will also be required to protect the development from waves.

A large deck that will serve as a lido for the general public will be constructed next to the pools. Approximately 250sq.m of the deck area will be used to accommodate the restaurant’s seating area.

The promenade will also be upgraded into a “public plaza” and access to the shoreline will remain unobstructed along the entire length of the site boundary.

The aim of the project is to have a permanent pool structure, which will enable waterpolo games to take place during adverse weather conditions, particularly when the sea is rough.

The report acknowledges that the land reclamation work will have an adverse effect upon the marine environment, especially on the habitats and organisms living within the seabed. A benthic survey to identify the present site and immediate area has been commissioned and will be carried out in the coming months. If the survey does identify any protected specials within the site boundary, the project layouts and designs may need to be changed.

The extension of the site into the sea and the construction of the protective defensive sea wall may be viewed as an adverse visual impact, the report concludes.

The site is located on the coast between Balluta and Spinola Bays and is presently occupied by the existing San Ġiljan Aquatic Sports Club, bar and restaurant. The sports club facilities are currently composed of two shower rooms, small storage rooms and an additional room which is being used by a dive centre operator. The sports club facilities are only operational during the summer months; during which a temporary waterpolo pitch is installed in the sea.

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