Supermarket plan reactivated as roads agency announces Burmarrad roundabout

Burmarrad supermarket plan left dormant since 2018 is back on the table after Infrastructure Malta announces ‘traffic calming’ roundabout right next to site

No plans have been submitted since the first application of May 2018
No plans have been submitted since the first application of May 2018

A supermarket outside the development zones in Burmarrad has been reactivated after being ‘suspended’ for the past year by its developers.

The supermarket is being proposed next to a petrol station approved by the Planning Authority in 2018, but which is yet awaiting the appeals verdict of the Environment and Planning Tribunal.

The supermarket is proposed on a 6,870sq.m plot of agricultural land along Burmarrad Road in the intersection with Triq is-Sardin, which already hosts a repair yard and offices owned by Bonnici Brothers, dating back from the 1990s.

No plans have been submitted since the first application of May 2018.

But now, the intersection between Triq is-Sardin and Triq Burmarrad has been identified for the development of a new roundabout in plans by Infrastructure Malta which are yet to be approved by the PA.

The supermarket plans had been suspended for over year but then only reactivated following the announcement of the roundabout plan. Applicants often request suspensions when they are biding for time or are reconsidering their plans.

MaltaToday is informed that apart from the Environment and Resources Authority’s strong objections to urban sprawl in the ODZ, one major objection concerns the supermarket’s traffic impact. In September 2018 Transport Malta had referred the application to the PA’s traffic planning unit, noting that a traffic impact assessment may be necessary.

While presently traffic along Triq is-Sardin is relatively low, the situation could change if the supermarket is approved.

Farmers in the area became aware of the impending roadworks towards the end of September when Infrastructure Malta placed notifications on the low-lying walls outside their farming territory, land that spreads over 21 tumoli.

The plans include two new roundabouts “to improve the safety” of Burmarrad Road’s crossroads with Is-Sardin Road, Tal-Hmieri Road and Ghajn Rihana Road, IM said.

IM insists that the roundabout at the corner with Is-Sardin Road, located next to the proposed supermarket, will also serve as a traffic-calming measure as road users approach the residential area of Burmarrad.

IM said the roundabout will reduce accident risks along this 2.5-kilometre road and its junctions “with nearby arterial, residential and rural roads”, noting that these crossroads are “accident black spots with a history of collisions and serious consequences to road users, especially due to the lack of measures discouraging overtaking and speeding.”

An IM spokesperson told MaltaToday that lay-bys and roundabouts included in the second phase of the project necessitate the take-up of small pockets of additional land beyond the existing road footprint.

The agency has submitted the necessary applications to the Planning Authority and launched the process to expropriate the required lands or to terminate the respective lease agreements.

When asked about the fate of an old reservoir in the area, the spokesperson explained that it is proposing raising the footpath along one side of the roundabout with ramps so that it goes over part of the reservoir, without having to dismantle it. This will avoid reducing its capacity.

However, a small section of one of the corners of the rectangular structure will need to be rebuilt in a new alignment to accommodate the new stretch of cycle lane, which cannot be raised in the same way as the footpath.

IM has already commenced works which do not require a planning permit in the area. These include the development of several safety measures within the existing road’s footprint, such as the introduction of traffic calming gateways and median safety barriers. The road does not currently have any form of protection from cross-median crashes.

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