Hangover from 2006: new block for Santa Lucija open space

Fields added to development zones in 2006 and zoned for five-storey residential blocks in 2020

The Planning Authority is considering an application for the construction of a five-storey block of 48 dwellings on 1,200sq.m of land which presently serves as an open space in the middle of Santa Lucija.

The plot forms part of a site already zoned for two, five-storey blocks in 2020 after the area was added to development boundaries in 2006. The open space along Triq L-Istefanotis and Triq Katerina Vitale is located in the heart of the locality 80m away from the primary school.

Santa Luċija has a population density of 3,600 for each square kilometre.

Just 20 years ago the PA had turned down an application to regularise a stable when the area was still outside development zones. In November 2020 it approved a zoning request from developer Anton Camilleri, one of the co-owners, earmarking a 3,100sq.m plot for residential development and two separate public open spaces.

The land had been added to the development zone in the infamous extension of building boundaries carried out in 2006.

The local plan designated 2,587sq.m for residential development and the remaining 576sq.m as public open space. It also stipulated that development should be ‘comprehensive’ in a bid to get the multiple owners of the site presenting one application.

But the land in question is partly government-owned and the development depended on the Lands Authority issuing its consent for the residential zoning of the whole site.

When the zoning application was approved, PA executive chairman Martin Saliba had confirmed that the land had been divided into two parcels of land so that the PA would not force the government “to transfer developable land to third parties when this land may be used more usefully for government projects”.

No application has yet been presented on the part of the site entirely owned by government, which means the government can still opt not to develop the part of the site which has been zoned for the construction of another apartment block.

In fact the zoning permit specifies that the two blocks “shall each be planned and developed comprehensively” and that the developers of each block should “at their own expense construct, implement and maintain” each of the two public open spaces adjacent to each block.

In the recently submitted application, Camilleri has applied to develop 36 apartments, seven penthouses, five maisonettes, and 75 garages on 1,273sq.m of land facing on three streets and public space.

But the application does not include any plans for the ‘open space’ on an adjacent site, which is mandated by the 2020 zoning application. Camilleri acknowledges that he is not owner of the entire site but that he has notified all owners who granted their consent. The application also states that no part of the land is government-owned.

Residents in the area expressed concern on the loss of this open space, noting that it is these open spaces which give charm to the ageing locality, originally planned around clusters of low-rise, social housing blocks. The latest census established that 32% of inhabitants in Santa Lucija are aged over 65.