Jerma development brief: massive volume will dwarf historic tower and residences

Graffitti: Jerma development brief drafted with the primary intention to accommodate the interests of a few developers and with little concern for the well-being of the residents

The ruins of the former Jerma Palace hotel
The ruins of the former Jerma Palace hotel

Moviment Graffitti has welcomed a reduction in developable volume from the excessive 100,000sq.m for the Jerma development brief, down to 65,000sqm, but noted with disappointment that the proposed development is still grossly disproportionate to the size and infrastructure of the locality.

“We agree with the proposed demolition of the abandoned building, which is not only an eyesore for residents and tourists alike, but also poses a danger to anyone who tries to access the coast.

“Nonetheless, it remains evident that this development brief has been drafted with the primary intention to accommodate the interests of a few developers and with little concern for the well-being of the residents. Regrettably, the Development Brief totally ignores the potential deleterious effects that this large-scale development will have on the community and the surrounding environment, and which could become the tipping point towards an unlivable Marsaskala,” Graffitti said.

The proposed volume of the massive development, 65,000sq.m  in floor space, constitutes more than double the volume currently occupied by the ex-Jerma Palace Hotel, which was 30,000sq.m.

“Encouraging such a massive development by committing 65,000sq.m for development is in direct contradiction to recent warnings about saturation in tourist accommodations and claims by tourism industry experts that mass tourism and large high-end projects should make way for more sustainable economic and social models and smaller-scale investments, respectively,” Graffitti said.

The brief will allow buildings to rise up to eight storeys, which is significantly higher than the current ex-Jerma structure, overshadowing the St Thomas Tower and surrounding residences.

The brief also allows the use of the land for non-touristic purposes: 26,000sq.m of floor space has been committed for residential purposes. “This is in direct breach of a 1982 Parliamentary Act which decreed that the area in question could only be developed for touristic purposes. Residential development on the ex-Jerma site will only benefit the developer and will reap no social and economic benefits to the locality and its residents in the long-term,” Graffitti said.

The NGO said the brief runs counter to the Local Plan by including two additional areas which are not included in the area delineated by the Local Plan. Besides the ex-Jerma Palace Hotel site, the brief includes a green area which should be accessible to the public and where no increase in height or volume is permitted, as well as a heritage site for which there is already a policy which is applicable.

“This inevitably taints the consultation process with irregularities. Moviment Graffitti remains of the opinion that this development brief should prioritize the well-being of residents and enhance the town’s social, historical and environmental value, and not seek to accommodate developers’ interests. Any development on this site should be exclusively used for touristic purposes and should not be larger than the current volume, height and footprint occupied by the ex-Jerma Palace Hotel.”

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